Test runs to start at UK dry fuel store

20 August 2015

The UK regulator has given approval for the inactive commissioning process to begin at a dry nuclear fuel store at Sizewell B, the country's first such nuclear fuel storage facility. Construction of the store began in early 2013.

Holtec International, which is supplying the storage facility, said the UK's Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) had given plant owner EDF Energy permission to begin inactive commissioning of the HI-STORM MPC facility to test the dry storage implementation steps.

The company said that the inactive commissioning phase is expected to be completed in October, after which the plant will prepare for a scheduled outage. The loading of the first used fuel is scheduled to be completed in the first quarter of 2016.

The HI-STORM stainless steel multi-purpose canisters (MPCs), the transfer cask and the forced helium dehydration system, plus the ancillary equipment needed for fuel loading - all produced by Holtec Manufacturing Division (HMD) - are now at the Sizewell B site. The hauler transporter and the lifting transporter - manufactured jointly by HMD and J&R Engineering - have also been delivered there.

Construction of the new dry fuel store building is progressing, Holtec said, with the concrete slab, the cask transfer facility and the internal accommodation walls now complete.

Sizewell B is the UK's only pressurized water reactor and has been operating since 1995. Used fuel from the UK's Magnox and Advanced Gas-cooled Reactor fleets is sent to Sellafield for reprocessing, but all of Sizewell B's used fuel has remained stored under water in an on-site fuel storage pond. The new dry fuel store will provide capacity for the unit's used fuel for the lifetime of the power station or until a deep geological disposal facility is available.

Conditional planning permission for the facility was granted in July 2011. The store received the final go-ahead in September 2012 after plant owner and operator EDF Energy satisfied the local planning authority, the Suffolk Coastal District Council Planning Committee, about the steps it had taken to meet those conditions.

Although dry stores for used fuel are in use in many locations around the world, the Sizewell B store will be the first such facility in the UK. Holtec noted that Sizewell B will be the third site in Europe to be equipped with the HI-STORM technology, the other two being the José Cabrera (also known as Zorita) and Ascó nuclear power plants in Spain. A large HI-STORM central storage facility is also under construction at Chernobyl in Ukraine.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News