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
Planning Information Corporation
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.
Though difficult to predict, some examples illustrate how utilities might use the priorities of spent fuel in their system:
Pacific Gas and Electric has 29.2 MTU in BWR assemblies stored at Humboldt Bay, whose reactor was shut down in 1976, and 427.7 MTU in PWR assemblies stored at Diablo Canyon, whose reactors are scheduled for shut down in 2008 and 2010. The spent fuel at Humboldt Bay was discharged in the early and mid-1970's, giving it priority for pickup in the first two acceptance years, while that at Diablo Canyon was discharged after 1985, giving it priority for pickup in years 7 to 12.
Pacific Gas and Electric could use the priority of its fuel at Humboldt Bay to empty and shut down the Humboldt Bay pool, thus avoiding the expense of its continued operation. Or, it could use the priority of its fuel at Humboldt Bay to ship from Diablo Canyon, thus providing additional pool capacity at the still-operating Diablo Canyon plants.
Consumers Power Company has 44.7 MTU in BWR assemblies stored at Big Rock (whose reactor is scheduled for shut down in the year 2000), and 316.8 MTU in PWR assemblies stored at Palisades (whose reactor is scheduled for shut down in 2007). While Consumers Power has 181.1 MTU of spent fuel with rankings which qualify for pickup in the first five acceptance years, almost all (91.9 percent) is stored at Palisades rather than at the Big Rock spent fuel pool.
Consumers Power could choose to use the priority of fuel in its system to empty the Big Rock pool after the Big Rock reactor shuts down in 2000, thus eliminating the expense of its continued operation. The Palisades dry storage facility would be required to enable its reactor to continue operation through its NRC license term.
Northern States Power has 198.7 MTU in BWR assemblies stored at Morris, 147.5 MTU in BWR assemblies stored at Monticello (whose plant is scheduled for shut down in 2010), and 502.0 MTU stored at Prairie Island, whose plants are scheduled for shut down in 2013 and 2014, but which has very limited onsite storage capacity (wet or dry) to support continued plant operations. While Northern States Power has 191.8 MTU of spent fuel with rankings which qualify for pickup in the first three acceptance years, over half is stored at Morris (46.9 percent) or Monticello (5.0 percent) rather than at Prairie Island.
Northern States could choose to use the priority of its spent fuel at Morris and Monticello to ship from Prairie Island, making additional storage capacity available there. While the capacity limitations at the Monticello spent fuel pool are much less severe than those at Prairie Island, the dimensions of the pool at Monticello (which was designed for BWR assemblies) preclude the transfer of PWR assemblies from Prairie Island. With confidence regarding an acceptance/shipment start date, Northern States might choose to purchase priority positions from one or more utilities with more sufficient onsite storage capacity.