14 Spent Fuel and Decommissioning
Download citation file:
- Ris (Zotero)
- Reference Manager
This chapter presents information related to spent fuel acceptance, management, storage options, and the operational and financial considerations faced before and during decommissioning. The generation of electricity by nuclear fission creates highly radioactive waste in the form of spent fuel. As each reactor is refueled, one-fourth to one-third of the fuel is removed and placed in the plant's storage pool, which shields and cools the spent assemblies.
Since these fuel pools were initially designed for provisional storage, most plants cannot store all the assemblies generated over the expected reactor operating life. In the late 1960s and early 1970s, assemblies could be transferred off site for reprocessing, freeing up additional space in the storage pools. It was anticipated that the DOE would provide interim storage at centralized sites. In the meantime, sites took measures to extend their own storage capacity, often by replacing the storage racks in the pools with denser ones to extend capacity as. much as practical. When that was no longer sufficient, supplemental storage was acquired, typically as an independent facility, With additional delays in the development of the government's waste management system, plants shut down over the next ten years will have a full compliment of fuel in on-site storage and will need to address its disposition in planning for decommissioning.
The NRC gives no specific guidance on managing or funding such storage. It does, however, refer a licensee to the provisions of 10 CFR 50.54(bb) (NRC 2001b), which require the licensee to submit for NRC approval the program by which it intends to manage and fund the management of all irradiated nuclear fuel at the reactor until possession transfers to the DOE. Whether funding is available as government reimbursements, damage claims, or through rate relief, the owner must determine the magnitude of potential financial liability.