The Transportation of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste

A Systematic Basis for Planning and Management at the National, Regional, and Community Levels

Prepared By
Planning Information Corporation
Denver, Colorado
September, 1996

4.   Acceptance Priority

Spent Fuel Discharges and Prioritization

The first spent fuel permanently discharged from a commercial nuclear plant occurred on June 21, 1968 and included five assemblies from the Big Rock Point boiling water reactor in northern Michigan. These assemblies, plus 80 others discharged from Big Rock in the late 1960s and early 1970s, are now stored at West Valley, in western New York State. The next spent fuel discharge from a commercial nuclear plant occurred on September 6, 1969 and included 94 assemblies from the Dresden 1 boiling water reactor in northeastern Illinois. These assemblies have been transferred for storage in the Dresden 2 and 3 spent fuel pools. The most recent spent fuel discharge in the current listing occurred on November 28, 1994 and included 204 assemblies from the Fitzpatrick boiling water reactor, north of Syracuse, New York, near the southeast corner of Lake Ontario.

Overall, there have been 1,108 discharges from commercial nuclear reactors through November 28, 1994—each of which is ranked for acceptance by year, month and day, and many of which have been subsequently separated into portions stored at various temporary locations. Assuming that DOE accepts "oldest-fuel-first," spent fuel would be picked up in the order in which it was discharged. This is the assumption in this assessment, though utilities are free to apply priorities to other fuel in their system, or to sell or auction priorities to other utilities. Also, proposed legislation might give priority to fuel at shut down reactors, which might help certain utilities to shut down their spent fuel pools earlier, and avoid the significant expense of continued pool operations at shut-down plants.

The Use of Spent Fuel Priorities

Though difficult to predict, some examples illustrate how utilities might use the priorities of spent fuel in their system:

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