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EM workers at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center transfer Experimental Breeder Reactor-II spent nuclear fuel from the Chemical Processing Plant-666 basin to a shipping cask.
EM workers at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center transfer Experimental Breeder Reactor-II spent nuclear fuel from the Chemical Processing Plant-666 basin to a shipping cask.

IDAHO FALLS, IdahoEM workers are set to soon begin transferring spent nuclear fuel from an underwater basin to a dry storage area at DOE’s Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site.

The project is necessary for DOE to meet a milestone with the state of Idaho to have all spent nuclear fuel transferred from wet to dry storage by 2023. Workers are safely transferring the fuel from wet to dry storage and preparing for its final disposition at an off-site repository. 

Spent nuclear fuel from the Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II) reactor is currently stored in the Chemical Processing Plant-666 (CPP) basin at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center. The fuel will be retrieved from there, transferred to a shipping cask, loaded onto a tractor trailer, and transported across the INL Site to the Radioactive Scrap and Waste Facility (RSWF). The cask will then be unloaded from the trailer, placed over below-ground steel fuel storage liners, and lowered into place.

EBR-II operated at the former Argonne National Laboratory-West, now the Materials and Fuels Complex, from 1964 until 1994. It generated power for the INL and supported reactor research. Spent nuclear fuel from EBR-II was transferred to the CPP-666 basin from 1986 to 1999.

To prepare to move the fuel, engineers designed a mock-up of the spent fuel liner at RSWF to practice unloading the fuel. This mock-up allowed crews to practice using a mobile crane and forklift as well as positioning, adjusting, and operating equipment to simulate the setup at RSWF. Crews conducted test runs and project personnel even held an emergency drill to simulate a non-normal event related to the fuel moves.

“The mock-up and dry runs are absolutely beneficial for crews to practice fuel moves and get familiar with the type of equipment they will be using for the actual moves,” said Mark Stubblefield, spent nuclear fuel manager with Fluor Idaho, EM’s INL Site cleanup contractor.

Earlier this year, the last of the U.S. Navy’s spent nuclear fuel was transferred from the CPP-666 basin to the nearby Naval Reactors Facility for dry storage. The basin is nearly 94-percent empty, with only two fuel types remaining: EBR-II and Advanced Test Reactor (ATR). Workers are making progress transferring the ATR fuel to CPP-603, a dry-storage facility.

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