The first canister of used nuclear fuel was yesterday loaded into the Interim Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility (ISF-2) at the Chernobyl plant in Ukraine. ISF-2 is the largest dry-type used fuel storage facility in the world and has an operating life of at least 100 years.
More than 21,000 used fuel assemblies accumulated at the Chernobyl site between 1977 and 2000 when its four RBMK reactors were generating electricity. There are currently held in the wet-type ISF-1. This facility is not designed for long-term storage of fuel and its service life is limited, so all used fuel assemblies are to be moved to the newly-built dry-type ISF-2 intermediate storage facility. Each of the fuel assemblies will be disassembled into three parts – two fuel bundles and an activated connecting rod – in a purpose-built ‘hot cell’, packaged in double-walled transportable canisters and placed into ISF-2.
The first loaded double-walled canister, containing a total of 93 used fuel assemblies from Chernobyl’s ageing storage facility, has now been placed in a concrete storage module within ISF-2. The operation was carried out by Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant (ChNPP) personnel under the supervision of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the State Nuclear Regulatory Inspectorate of Ukraine and Holtec International of the USA.
Holtec took over the project 13 years after Areva had started it in 1998, and began work to develop a fully functional facility using the legacy systems, structures and components supplied by the French engineering company, and acquiring new replacement systems, as needed, from France, Germany, Italy and the USA, among other countries.