EM crews deposit the 100th shipment of Experimental Breeder Reactor-II spent nuclear fuel into a vault at the Radioactive and Scrap Waste Facility.
EM crews deposit the 100th shipment of Experimental Breeder Reactor-II spent nuclear fuel into a vault at the Radioactive and Scrap Waste Facility.

IDAHO FALLS, IdahoEM crews at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) Site are making significant progress to reduce risk through two projects involving spent nuclear fuel in support of a 1995 agreement with the State of Idaho.

EM cleanup contractor Idaho Environmental Coalition (IEC) reached a milestone to complete six of 39 spent nuclear fuel transfers about two months ahead of schedule. The fuel canisters had been shipped from Pennsylvania to the INL Site following the closure of the Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station, Unit 1 in 1974. The canisters were placed in vaults at Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC).

The early completion of the six fuel transfers was attributed to an efficient, well-managed work pace, and continuity of operations across INTEC.

Due to concerns of corrosion to the fuel canisters, EM crews last year began transferring the Peach Bottom fuel from old vaults to new vaults that provide better storage.

Under the agreement with Idaho, EM is required to transfer all spent nuclear fuel at the INL Site from wet storage to dry storage by Dec. 31, 2023.

In the second project, EM crews are advancing their mission to ship remaining Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II) spent nuclear fuel from the DOE complex’s largest spent nuclear fuel storage basin, located at INTEC, to dry storage at the Radioactive Scrap and Waste Facility (RSWF) or the Fuel Conditioning Facility (FCF) at the Materials and Fuels Complex (MFC).

Earlier this month, that project completed the 100th shipment of EBR-II fuel to the RSWF, adding to the project’s total of 168 fuel shipments. Only 31 more shipments of EBR-II fuel to RSWF and FCF remain to empty the basin and reach the milestone under the agreement.

“The EBR-II transfer progress has only been made possible by the collaboration between IEC and Battelle Energy Alliance,” said Kerry Oltmanns, IEC spent nuclear fuel projects manager at INTEC. “The employees of these two companies have a great respect for the mission and it shows every step of the way.”

Battelle Energy Alliance is a DOE Office of Nuclear Energy contractor.

The EBR-II operated at the former Argonne National Laboratory-West, now the MFC, from 1964 until 1994. The reactor generated power for the INL and provided reactor research benefits. Spent nuclear fuel from EBR-II was transferred to wet storage at Chemical Processing Plant-666 from 1986 to 1999.

Oltmanns said despite Idaho weather challenges, it’s impressive that both projects have continued to beat their milestones.

“Our employees always find a way to remain safe and still get the work done despite what Mother Nature throws at them,” she said.

Ken Brewer, IEC INTEC nuclear operations director, said the importance of the Peach Bottom and wet-to-dry storage projects cannot be overstated.

“The progress these two projects have made since March of this year is attributed to great leadership by all involved,” Brewer said.