First used fuel placed in Garoña storage facility

07 July 2022

The first container holding used fuel from the Garoña nuclear power plant in Spain has been placed in the on-site interim dry storage facility. Removal of all the used fuel from the plant's storage pool must be completed before decommissioning work begins.

The first container in place in Garoña's ATI (Image: Enresa)

This is the first of the five containers that are planned to be stored in the Individualized Temporary Warehouse (ATI) at Garoña, in accordance with the first loading phase that appears in the forecasts of the plant's used fuel management plan. This plan was recently approved by the Ministry for the Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge, following a favorable report from the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN).

The operation took more than 160 hours to carry out and involved the preparation of the container, its transfer to the storage pool, the loading of the 52 used fuel rods, its extraction and, finally, its transfer to the ATI facility. The entire procedure was supervised by the CSN.

The container, manufactured by the Spanish company Ensa, has a height of 4.85 metres, a diameter of 2.1 metres and a weight of 71 tonnes, once loaded.

The construction of the ATI facility at Garoña was completed in 2017. This facility will allow dry and temporary storage of dual-purpose metal containers, whose design allows the loading of used fuel and the subsequent transport of the fuel from the plant to the Centralised Temporary Storage (ATC).

Plant owner Nuclenor said the loading and transfer to the ATI of the other four available containers will be carried out over the next few months. It said the removal of the remaining 2245 used fuel rods in the storage pool will be completed with 44 additional containers, which are currently in the manufacturing process.

The 446 MWe boiling water reactor at Garoña began operations in 1971 and was deemed by the CSN to be suitable for operation until 2019 given certain technical upgrades.

However, in September 2012, Nuclenor - a joint venture of Endesa and Iberdrola - missed the deadline to submit an operating licence renewal application for Garoña, meaning that it had to shut by the time its licence expired on 6 July 2013. However, the reactor was closed in mid-December 2012 to avoid a full year of retroactive tax charges for which Nuclenor would have been liable if it was operating on 1 January 2013.

Nuclenor is required to carry out a series of tasks during a "pre-dismantling period", including the removal of used fuel held in Garoña's storage pool to the interim storage facility. It must also treat the waste that has been generated during the plant's operation.

Spanish decommissioning firm Enresa has submitted an application to the Ministry for Ecological Transition and Demographic Challenge in May 2020 for the transfer of ownership of the Garoña nuclear power plant and the first phase of its dismantling.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News