Morning Briefing - May 07, 2019
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Article 7 of 10
May 07, 2019

Holtec Begins Final Test of Chernobyl Spent Fuel Dry Storage System

By ExchangeMonitor

Holtec International said Monday it was beginning two months of final testing of the dry-storage facility for used nuclear fuel at the onetime Chernobyl nuclear power plant in Ukraine.

“These functional dry runs follow a long series of exhaustive tests of the individual systems, structures and components within the spent nuclear fuel processing and storage complex called ISF-2,” the Camden, N.J., energy technology company said in a press release. “Over the next two months, we expect to complete stem-to-stern functional demonstrations of the spent fuel handling and storage processes before handing over the facility to Ukraine’s State-owned enterprise Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (ChNPP).”

The announcement arrived on the same day that HBO began airing its five-part miniseries on the 1986 nuclear disaster in the then-Soviet Union.

The Ukrainian organization will be in charge of commissioning the storage facility, which will ultimately hold over 21,000 spent fuel assemblies. The first step will be “hot” trials of the operation, Holtec said. It will subsequently cut up the fuel assemblies, place them into double-walled canisters, and move them from cooling pools into sealed storage containers.

Holtec since 2011 has completed the construction and repair of the dry-storage facility, which it said began in the 1990s under a separate contractor before being abandoned.

“We were handed a facility full of defective equipment that had deteriorated for lack of any maintenance for nearly a decade,” Holtec Project Manager Michael Pence said in the release. “Through the sheer commitment of our team and partners, this project, which looked nearly impossible given the poor condition of the building, shabby documentation and old equipment, with little or no hope of available replacement parts, has now reached the milestone we celebrate today.”

Holtec’s work was funded by Japan and a group of Western nations via the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development.