First fuel loaded into Brazilian dry storage facility

05 May 2021

The first multi-purpose canister containing fuel has been loaded into a HI-STORM FW module and placed into the new on-site used fuel dry storage facility at Brazil's Angra nuclear power plant, Holtec International announced. This marks the official start of the storage facility's planned 50 years of operation as well as the first use of Holtec's HI-TRAN 300 single-failure proof vertical heavy load hauler.

The on-site used fuel dry storage facility at Angra (Image: Holtec International)

Holtec said the MPC-32ML multi-purpose canister being used at Angra features a specially designed and licensed Metamic-HT fuel basket optimized for the unique Angra 2 fuel. The canister was successfully loaded in a HI-STORM FW system and placed into the dry storage facility - known as the Complementary Dry Storage Unit for Spent Fuel (UAS) - on 22 March.

The UAS includes physical security, radiation and temperature monitoring, an armoured access control centre and a storage warehouse with a technical workshop, designed and constructed by Holtec. It will store used fuel from Angra units 1 and 2. The facility was constructed because the storage pools of both units are reaching full capacity. As Angra 2 is reaching the limit first, the transfer of fuel has started with this unit. The transfer of fuel from Angra 1 is scheduled to begin in November.

Initially, the UAS will comprise 15 HI-STORM FW modules. In total, 288 fuel elements will be removed from Angra 2 and 222 from Angra 1, which will make enough room in the storage pools for another five years of operation for each unit. The dry storage facility can hold up to 72 modules, with the capacity to store used fuel until 2045.

Under a turnkey contract signed in 2017, Holtec of the USA is supplying Brazilian nuclear operator Eletronuclear with the dry storage facility for used fuel from Angra 1 and 2. The first five modules for the new storage facility were delivered to the Angra plant site in late-March 2020.

Holtec noted the project was delivered on schedule despite the COVID-19 pandemic during construction and a "rigorous licensing and permitting process" for this first-of-kind facility in Brazil. To execute the project and to ensure compliance with Brazilian regulations and standards, Holtec launched a local subsidiary, Holtec do Brasil, based in Rio de Janeiro.

"Angra's UAS is a state-of-the-art facility whose commissioning marks a significant milestone for securing the future of the nuclear industry in Brazil, demonstrating that spent fuel from commercial reactor operations can be safely and reliably managed with Holtec's Multi-Purpose Canister technology," said Richard Springman, senior vice president of international projects at Holtec.

Eletronuclear Technical Director Ricardo Luis Pereira dos Santos added: "The UAS is a critical project for Eletronuclear to ensure the continued operability of Angra 2 and Angra 1."

Angra 1 is a Westinghouse-designed 609 MWe pressurised water reactor, while Angra 2 is a Siemens-designed 1275 MWe PWR. The units have different architectures and licensing bases, adding to the complexity of the project. Holtec has modified their respective cask handling cranes and equipment for loading the fuel into the multi-purpose canisters and for moving the canisters to the dry storage facility.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News