Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Locations and Inventory

Order Code RS22001 Updated December 21, 2004 CRS Report for Congress Received through the CRS Web Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Locations and Inventory Anthony Andrews Specialist in Industrial Engineering and Infrastructure Policy Resources, Science, and Industry Division Summary Spent nuclear fuel is principally stored at 83 locations throughout the United States, including reactor storage pools, independent spent fuel storage installations, national laboratories, and defense weapons sites. Additional sites include university research and training reactors. The104 commercial nuclear generating units1 licensed to operate in 31 states discharge over 2,000 metric tons2 of spent fuel annually. The total inventory could approach 54,000 metric tons at the end of 2004. This report will be updated when new statistics become available. Commercial Spent Fuel Generation A typical fuel rod used in commercial nuclear power reactors consists of uranium dioxide pellets surrounded by zirconium alloy cladding. The uranium oxide pellets consist of 3-4% fissionable3 uranium-235, and a balance of nonfissionable U-238. An individual fuel assembly consists of arrays of fuel rods. The Energy Information Administration (EIA) notes 131 reactor fuel assembly types on its Nuclear Fuel Data Survey Form.4 The assemblies range in weight from ~70 kilograms uranium for a boiling water reactor5 to ~464 kilograms uranium for a pressurized water reactor.6 During the sustained chain reaction in an operating reactor, the U-235 splits into highly radioactive fission products, 1 There are currently 69 pressurized water reactors (PWR) and 35 boiling water reactors (BWR) licensed to operate in the United States. U.S. Nuclear Reactors, U.S. Department of Energy, Energy Information Administration, at [http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/nuclear/page/nuc_reactors/ reactsum.html], viewed Nov. 29, 2004. 2 A metric ton (1,000 kilograms) is approximately equivalent to 2,200 pounds. 3 The splitting of the nucleus of a heavy atom into two lighter nuclei. 4 Energy Information Administration, Department of Energy, Nuclear Fuel Data Survey Form RW-859 (OMB No. 1901-0287). 5 Humboldt Bay Assembly Class. 6 Babcock & Wilcox 15 x 15 Assembly Class. *RS22001* *RS22001* CRS-2 while the U-238 is partially converted to plutonium-239 by neutron capture, some of which also fissions. Further neutron capture creates other transuranic elements.7 Commercial nuclear power reactors are refueled on a frequency of 18 to 24 months. During refueling, approximately one-third of the fuel (spent nuclear fuel) is replaced. The spent fuel is moved to a storage pool adjacent to the reactor to allow for thermal cooling, and decay of short-lived radionuclides. Due to the limited storage capacity at some reactor pools, reactor operators may transfer cooled spent fuel to specially designed casks licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) for dry storage. Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations The NRC has licensed 30 independent spent fuel storage installations (ISFSIs) in 23 states.8 Most of ISFSIs use dry cask storage and are co-located at the reactor site. The General Electric Company operates a wet pool ISFSI in Morris, Illinois (GE Morris Operation), that stores commercial spent fuel from a number of reactors. Private Fuel Storage, LLC (PFS), a group of eight electric utility companies that have partnered with the Skull Valley Band of Goshute Indians, has applied for an NRC license to build and operate an ISFSI on the Indian Tribe’s reservation in Skull Valley, Utah. Federal Facilities Federally generated spent fuel originated from nuclear weapons production, the naval reactor program, and Department of Energy (DOE)-sponsored research programs. The spent fuel remains in interim storage at the Savannah River, Hanford, and Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory (INEEL) defense sites.9 Small quantities also remain at the Argonne, Brookhaven, and Sandia National Laboratories, and various university research reactors. The DOE operates the ISFSI for the former Fort St. Vrain High Temperature Gas Cooled Reactor in Colorado. In comparison with commercial power reactor fuel, the Navy’s nuclear-powered warships use highly enriched U-235 fuel in reactors that can operate without refueling for their approximate 30-year life-cycles. The 103 naval reactors taken out of service are almost equal in number to those currently operating. Approximately 65 metric tons of spent fuel has been generated by the naval reactor program, which up until 1992 had been reprocessed to remove highly enriched uranium, plutonium-239, or other transuranic elements for reuse in the nuclear weapons program. Since 1992, approximately 9 metric tons of naval spent fuel has been transferred to INEEL for interim storage.10 7 Transuranic refers to elements with atomic numbers higher than that of uranium (92 protons). These include neptunium (93), plutonium (94), americium (95), and curium (96). 8 U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission, 2004-2005 Information Digest, Figure 42 — Licensed Operating Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations. 9 Appendix A, Final Environmental Impact Statement for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste at Yucca Mountain, Nye County, Nevada, U.S. Department of Energy, Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management (2002). 10 Detailed information obtained through specific request to the National Spent Nuclear Fuels (continued...) CRS-3 Spent Fuel Inventory at End of 2002 A total of 49,401 metric tons spent fuel had been discharged by commercial and federal-related activities by the end of 2002, based on data compiled by the Energy Information Administration11 and the National Spent Nuclear Fuels Program.12 (This does not include spent fuel that had been reprocessed to remove plutonium for weapons programs.) Commercial reactor storage pools separately accounted for 41,564 metric tons, and ISFSIs (mostly co-located at reactor sites) accounted for another 5,363 metric tons. Federal and other sites (national laboratories, defense sites, university research reactor and industrial reactors) made up the balance of 2,474 metric tons (reported at 2003’s year end). The data are displayed geographically in Figure 1 and summarized in Table 1. An additional ~20 metric tons of foreign research reactor fuel is scheduled to be eventually added to the overall inventory.13 University research reactor spent fuel is discussed in the final section of this report. Projected Inventory at End of 2004 No authoritative estimate of the spent fuel inventory exists for the end of 2004. EIA reported 38,418 metric tons14 of commercial spent fuel discharged at 1998’s year-end, and 47,023 metric tons at 2002’s year-end. Averaging that difference over the four-year period, commercial reactor facilities annually discharged 2,152 metric tons of spent fuel. Projected on that basis, the cumulative amount of spent fuel from commercial and federal activities could approach 54,000 metric tons by the end of 2004. The operation and performance of individual reactors would affect this projection. 10 (...continued) Program at the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory, available at [http:// nsnfp.inel.gov/snfData.asp], viewed Nov. 30, 2004. 11 Energy Information Administration Form RW-859, “Nuclear Fuel Data” (2002). Note that the EIA reports an aggregate total of 47,023.4 metric tons spent fuel discharged from commercial reactors over the period of 1968 to 2002; 46,268 metric tons stored at commercial reactor sites, and 755.4 metric tons stored away from reactor sites. EIA does not distinguish between reactor pool and ISFSI dry storage, or publish data on individual reactors. Refer to EIA Spent Nuclear Fuel Data, Detailed United States as of December 31, 2002, at [http://www.eia.doe.gov/cneaf/ nuclear/spent_fuel/ussnfdata.html], viewed Dec. 8, 2004. 12 National Spent Nuclear Fuels Program (see footnote 10). 13 The Record of Decision on a Nuclear Weapons Nonproliferation Policy Concerning Foreign Research Reactor Spent Nuclear Fuel was issued by the Department of Energy on May 13, 1996. Implementing this policy will involve acceptance of up to approximately 140 cubic meters or 19.8 metric tons heavy metal of spent fuel and target material from foreign research reactors. The acceptance duration is 13 years from May 13, 1996. 14 Energy Information Administration EIA, Prior Years 1998 Table, at [http://www.eia.doe.gov/ cneaf/nuclear/spent_fuel/ussnfdata.html], viewed Nov. 24, 2004. CRS-4 Figure 1. Reactor Storage Pools, Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations, Federal, and Other Sites (numbered labels refer to facilities in Table 1) CRS-5 Table 1. Reactor Storage Pools, Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installations, Federal, and Other Sites (2002) Facility 1. Arkansas Nuclear One Assemblies MT AK P 1,517 666.7 I 552 241.4 2. Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant AL P 6,696 1,230.2 3. J M Farley Nuclear Plant AL P 2,011 903.8 4. Palo Verde Nuc Gen Station AZ P 2,747 1,157.8 5. Diablo Canyon Power Plant CA P 1,736 760.9 6. GE Vallecitos Nuc Center CA I fragments 0.2 7. Humboldt Bay Power Plant CA P 390 28.9 8. Rancho Seco Nuc Gen Station CA I 493 228.4 9. San Onofre Nuc Gen Station CA P 2,490 1,013.3 10. Fort St. Vrain Power Station CO F 1,464 14.7 11. Connecticut Yankee Atom Pwr CT P 1,019 412.3 12. Millstone Nuc Power Station CT P 4,558 1,227.9 13. Crystal River Nuc Power Plant FL P 824 382.3 14. St. Lucie Nuc Power Plant FL P 2,278 870.7 15. Turkey Point Station FL P 1,862 851.7 16. AW Vogtle Electric Gen Plant GA P 1,639 720.8 17. EL Hatch Nuclear Plant GA P 5,019 909.3 I 816 151.2 18. D Arnold Energy Center IA P 1,912 347.9 19. Idaho National Eng & Env ID F 93522 299.3 Lab 20. Argonne National Lab East IL F 78 0.1 21. Braidwood Generating Sta IL P 1,485 628.7 22. Byron Generating Station IL P 1,786 756.4 23. Clinton Power Station IL P 1,580 288.8 24. Dresden Generating Station IL P 5,698 1,009.2 I 1,155 146.9 25. GE Morris Operation IL I 3,217 674.3 26. LaSalle County Gen Sta IL P 4,106 744.6 27. Quad Cities Gen Station IL P 6,116 1,106.5 28. Zion Generating Station IL P 2,226 1,019.4 29. Wolf Creek Gen Station KS P 925 427.3 30. River Bend Station LA P 2,148 383.9 31. Waterford Gen Sta LA P 960 396.4 32. Pilgrim Nuclear Station MA P 2,274 413.9 33. Yankee Rowe Nuc Power Sta MA I 533 127.1 34. Calvert Cliffs Nuc Pwr Plt MD P 1,348 518.0 I 960 368.1 35. Maine Yankee Atomic Pwr Plt ME I 1,434 542.3 36. Big Rock Point Nuc Plt MI I 441 57.9 37. D C Cook Nuclear Plant MI P 2,198 969.0 38. Enrico Fermi Atomic Pwr Plt MI P 1,708 304.6 39. Palisades Nuclear Pwr Sta MI P 649 260.7 I 432 172.4 40. Monticello Nuclear Gen Plant MN P 1,342 236.1 41. Prairie Isl. Nuc Gen Plt MN P 1,135 410.3 I 680 262.3 42. Callaway Nuclear Plant MO P 1,118 479.0 43. Grand Gulf Nuclear Station MS P 3,160 560.2 44. Brunswick Stm Elec Plt NC P 2,227 477.4 45. W B McGuire Nuc Sta NC P 2,232 1,001.1 I 160 68.6 Reactor Pool P 145,589 41,564.1 ISFSI I 17,826 5,363.2 Federal and Other F 220,238 2,473.9 Facility 46. Shearon Harris Nuc Pwr Plnt 47. Cooper Nuclear Station 48. Fort Calhoun Station 49. Seabrook Nuclear Station 50. Hope Creek Gen Station 51. Oyster Creek Generating Sta NC NE NE NH NJ NJ 52. Salem Nuc Generating Sta 53. Sandia National Laboratory 54. Brookhaven National Lab 55. JA Fitzpatrick Nuc Pwr Plant NJ NM NY NY 56. Indian Point Energy Center 57. Nine Mile Point Nuclear Station 58. R E Ginna Nuclear Power Plant 59. Davis-Besse Nuclear Pwr Sta NY NY NY OH 60. Perry Nuclear Power Plant 61. Trojan Nuclear Power Plant 62. Beaver Valley Power Station 63. Limerick Generating Station OH OR PA PA 64. Peach Bottom Atm Pwr Sta PA P I PA P I PA P SC P SC P I SC P I SC F SC P TN P TN P TX P TX P VA P I VA P I VT P WA P I WA F WI P WI P WI P I F 65. Susquehanna Steam Elec Sta 66. Three Mile Island Nuc Station 67. Catawba Nuclear Station 68. HB Robinson Steam Elec Plt 69. Oconee Nuclear Station 70. Savannah River Defense Site 71. VC Summer Nuclear Station 72. Sequoyah Nuclear Power Plant 73. Watts Bar Nuclear Plant 74. Comanche Peak Steam Elec Sta 75. South Texas Project 76. North Anna Power Station 77. Surry Power Station 78. Vermont Yankee Gen Station 79. Columbia Generating Station 80. Hanford Defense Site 81. Kewaunee Nuclear Power Plant 82. La Crosse Nuclear Gen Station 83. Point Beach Nuclear Plant Other: University & Industry Assemblies P 3,814 P 1,537 P 839 P 624 P 2,376 P 2,556 I 244 P 1,804 F 503 F 40 P 2,460 I 204 P 2,073 P 4,456 P 967 P 749 I 72 P 2,088 P 780 P 1,456 P 4,601 MT 964.5 278.6 305.0 287.2 431.5 455.9 47.6 832.7 0.3 <0.1 446.5 37.2 903.6 801.6 357.4 351.3 33.9 378.4 358.9 672.9 824.0 5,905 1,062.7 1,020 190.3 4,240 738.4 1,300 238.5 898 416.1 1,780 782.4 344 147.9 56 24.1 1,419 665.8 1,726 800.4 9,657 28.9 812 353.9 1,699 782.6 297 136.6 1,273 540.7 1,254 677.8 1,410 652.7 480 220.8 794 365.4 1,150 524.2 2,671 488.4 1,904 333.7 340 61.0 110,140 2,128.9 904 347.6 333 38.0 1,353 507.4 360 144.1 4,834 1.7 Combined Total 383,653 49,401.2 Sources: Energy Information Administration, and DOE National Spent Nuclear Fuels Program MT: metric ton (1,000 kg) CRS-6 The planned nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain, NV, has been scheduled to receive 63,000 metric tons commercial spent nuclear fuel and 2,333 metric tons DOE spent-fuel.15 The Nuclear Waste Policy Act (42 U.S.C. 10101) prohibits disposal of more than the equivalent of 70,000 metric tons in the Yucca Mountain repository until a second repository is constructed. The balance of the 70,000 metric tons would be made up of the high-level waste equivalent of defense-related reprocessed spent fuel. University Research and Industry Spent Fuel University research reactors, in aggregate, reported approximately 1.5 metric tons of spent fuel. A few domestic reactors used for industrial purposes reported another 0.2 metric tons. Depending upon the facility, the spent fuel may either be pool or dry stored. The fuel elements in the generic General Atomics TRIGA16 research reactor are initially enriched to 20% uranium-235 as compared to 3%-4% in commercial PWR and BWR fuel elements. Unlike conventional fuel, the fission rate of TRIGA fuel decreases with rising temperature (an inherent design safety feature). Twenty universities use this type of reactor. Other research reactors may use fuel with even higher uranium-235 enrichment. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) registers research reactors throughout the world that are either operating, operationally shut down, or decommissioned (decontaminated and dismantled).17 Of the 65 U.S. university reactors registered with IAEA, 26 are operating, 12 are shut down, and 27 are decommissioned. The 24 U.S. university reactors reported to the National Spent Nuclear Fuels Program are listed in Table 2. Shut down reactors intended for decommissioning could increase the spent fuel total. Table 2. University Research Reactors Reporting Spent Fuel University of ArizonaO University of California (Irvine)O University of California (Davis)O University of FloridaO University of Illinois (Urbana)D S Purdue UniversityO Kansas State UniversityD Massachusetts Institute of TechnologyO University of Massachusetts (Lowell)O Worcester Polytechnic Institute* University of Michigan* University of MissouriS AZ CA CA FL IL IN KS North Carolina State UniversityO State University of New York (Buffalo)S Cornell UniversityO Ohio State UniversityO Oregon State UniversityO D Reed CollegeO Pennsylvania State UniversityO NC NY NY OH OR OR PA MA Rhode Island Nuclear Science CenterO RI MA MA MI MO University of Texas (Austin)D Texas A&MO University of UtahO D University of WisconsinO TX TX UT WI Source: National Spent Nuclear Fuels Program O : operating D: decommissioned S: shut *: unknown status 15 Appendix A — Inventory and Characteristics of Spent-fuel, High Level Radioactive Waste, and Other Materials; Final Environmental Impact Statement for a Geologic Repository for the Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste at Yucca Mountain, Nye County, Nevada, DOE/EIS-0250 (February 2002). 16 17 Training, Research, Isotopes, General Atomics. International Atomic Energy Administration, Nuclear Research Reactors in the World, at [http://www.iaea.org/worldatom/rrdb/], viewed Dec. 8, 2004.