Mexican dry storage facility nearing completion

24 June 2016

An independent used fuel storage installation (ISFSI) at Mexico's Laguna Verde nuclear power plant has been built in record time, with fuel loading into the facility's storage canisters expected to begin this month.

Laguna Verde's completed ISFSI pad (Image: Holtec)

The facility is being built by Holtec International as a turnkey project for Mexico's national utility, Comisión Federal de Electricidad (CFE), according to a contract signed in December 2014. Project teams from Holtec and CFE have completed all design and engineering work, fabrication of major equipment and construction of the storage pad, as well as a subterranean canister transfer facility, in 16 months.

The project is now in the final stages of implementing the security systems to guard the facility, Holtec said. The delivery of dry storage systems and other systems are in progress and dry run demonstrations are under way. Holtec's Site Services group is preparing to begin loading of an initial instalment of 13 HI-STORM FW storage modules this month. Loading will end in November.

Laguna Verde's two 800 MWe boiling water reactors supply about 4% of Mexico's electricity. Unit 1 came on line in 1989 and is currently licensed to operate until 2029, while unit 2 has been operating since 1994 and is licensed to operate until 2034. Used fuel from the units is currently stored underwater in the plant's storage pools, which have already been re-racked to extend their storage capacity. The ISFSI will allow fuel assemblies which have been cooled in Laguna Verde's pool to be moved into dry-cask storage.

The HI-STORM FW system is Holtec's highest-capacity multi-purpose canister (MPC) system. It consists of interchangeable sealed metallic MPCs which contain the fuel itself; a vertically ventilated storage overpack constructed from a combination of steel and concrete, which contains the MPC during interim storage; and a variable weight transfer cask (HI-TRAC VW) which contains the MPC during loading, unloading, and transfer operations. The system provides physical protection of the used fuel, radiation shielding, and passive heat removal during interim storage.

Laguna Verde's ISFSI pad will be able to hold 130 casks of used fuel. CFE project manager Federico Gonzalez said the facility was necessary for the continued operation of Laguna Verde. "The completion of this loading campaign will signify the reduction of 18% of the fuel assemblies in the [used] fuel pool," he said.

Holtec senior vice president for operations PK Chaudhary said the "diligence and collaborative spirit" exhibited by the teams had seen a process that would typically take three years "completed in a mere 16 months, with the highest levels of safety and quality".

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News