Nuclear company Orano USA said this week that a recent approval from the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission will allow four of its NUHOMS storage systems to be loaded with spent fuel from nuclear power reactors after just two years of cooling.
Previously, used fuel assemblies had to remain in power plant cooling pools for up to five years before being placed into dry storage, Orano spokesman Curtis Roberts said Wednesday.
The update allows for storage in different storage systems of fuel assemblies with varying decay heats, up to 2.5 kilowatts. In all cases, those correspond to two years of cooling.
The change will allow nuclear plants that use the NUHOMS horizontal systems – now at more than 30 sites across the nation – to more quickly shift their spent fuel into dry storage. That is particularly key at retired facilities, more than halving the time needed to complete pool-to-pad operations, Orano said in a press release.
“Completing this milestone earlier reduces site emergency planning requirements and costs, while enabling the site to accelerate plant decommissioning and achieve partial license termination,” according to the company.
Orano (then AREVA) in March 2017 requested 11 distinct revisions to its NRC certificate of compliance for its Standardized NUHOMS System. Last November. the agency issued a final rule certifying the so-called Amendment 15.
The amendment, which went into effect on Jan. 22, “revised the technical specifications of the certificate of compliance to: Unify and standardize fuel qualification tables; revise existing and add new heat load zoning configurations; increase the allowable maximum assembly average burnup; allow loading of damaged fuel assemblies under certain conditions; expand the definition of the poison rod assemblies to include rod cluster control assembly materials; allow other zirconium alloy cladding materials; add model OS197 as an authorized transfer cask; add the description for the solar shield in the updated final safety analysis report; and add flexibility to general licensees in verifying compliance regarding the storage pad location and the soil-structure interaction.”