April 29, 2019 | By Juan Subiry
When it comes to addressing used fuel and high-level waste (HLW) needs at shut-down nuclear plants, the track record is clear – NAC International is the proven expert, with experience at many U.S. sites. With over 20 years of decommissioning spent fuel management experience, NAC has supplied over half of the used fuel systems at decommissioning U.S. utility sites.

kewauneeAfter Kewaunee shut down, NAC completed all work in only four years.After shutting down the Kewaunee plant in Wisconsin in 2013, operator Dominion Energy awarded NAC a turnkey contract to move its fuel from the spent fuel pool and into dry storage. Using advanced fuel storage technology, license amendments and a strong partnership with Dominion Energy, NAC transferred fuel from Kewaunee Power Station to storage in record time using its MAGNASTOR technology.

Normally the spent fuel stays in the pool and is cooled for five years, but NAC devised a special fuel loading plan using a mix-and-match pattern to distribute the heat from the fuel more evenly. NAC also developed ways to optimize the process, including how they drained and dried the fuel. This allowed for the pool-to-pad transfer to occur in record time of only 3½ years.

On average, used fuel moves from pool-to-pad in between five and seven days. However, NAC’s fuel loading plan cut this down to only 3.2 days. After Kewaunee shut down, NAC completed all work in only four years, transferring nearly 900 fuel assemblies from pool to pad in under 23 weeks.

This faster approach has concrete financial implications. Once the used fuel is in dry storage, a nuclear plant can move to the next phase of decommissioning, saving the utility approximately $20 million in operating costs, versus the customary approach of leaving the spent fuel in the pool for up to five or six years. With the fuel removed from the pool, the plant can shut down sooner and use a smaller security force, thereby reducing the number of staff needed to operate the plant.

In addition to dry storage, NAC is also a leader in transporting nuclear materials, expertise that helped speed up the decommissioning process at Kewaunee. NAC is the only cask vendor that routinely ships spent fuel on U.S. soil.

All this experience helped the NAC team be successful in the decommissioning efforts at Kewaunee. Our transportable storage solutions were a big factor in making this process move quickly and successfully.

Juan Subiry is vice president of marketing and business development of NAC International.