AREVA, corrosion, creep, criticality, delayed hydride cracking, embrittlement, EPRI, fleecing the taxpayer, high burn-up fuel, high burn-up spent fuel, Holtec, neutron bombardment, neutron embrittlement, NRC, nuclear reactors, Nuclear Waste transport, socialism for the rich, Toshiba, transport of nuclear waste, US DOE, US DOE Research, utilities
The research arm of the utilities, EPRI, hired by the US DOE (taxpayer) to do research on storage of high burnup spent nuclear fuel (SNF) stated last year that “almost all SNF being loaded in the U.S. is now high burnup. Since high burnup SNF has different mechanical properties than lower burnup SNF, industry needs additional data on high burnup SNF under typical conditions.“ The current Chair of the Board, of EPRI, is CEO of Exelon Utilities, owner and/or operator of 23 nuclear reactors- he should know! The research is being done by French State owned Areva, which makes one of the approved casks, as well as the fuel; Toshiba, and one utility. This particular DOE-EPRI Contract Ends 15-Apr-18. The funding must come from the “$5.34 billion for Science to continue to lead basic research in the physical sciences and develop and operate cutting-edge scientific user facilities while strengthening the connection between advances in fundamental science and technology innovation.” http://www.energy.gov/articles/energy-department-presents-fy16-budget-request
Whatever part of the budget it is from, it is obvious that this R&D should be paid for by the utilities and done by the US government and not vice versa. Or, the utilities should pay for their own research and the US for separate independent research.
Below is a presentation, explaining what they do not know, about storage of the high burn-up fuel, which they are still using and still loading into dry casks, anyway. It will help clarify what is at stake when Holtec wants to classify corroded fuel rods as non-damaged, especially in their storage casks which are 5/8 inch thick, barely over one half an inch thin. Holtec also wants two or three other “exemptions”. The NRC may re-examine the topic if they get enough complaints: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2015/02/05/2015-02310/list-of-approved-spent-fuel-storage-casks-holtec-international-hi-storm-100-cask-system-certificate Damaged fuel rods are now stuck in a Holtec Cask in Arkansas and can’t be moved! http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1428/ML14286A037.pdf The NRC seems to justify it on Holtec’s assurances: https://www.federalregister.gov/articles/2014/12/31/2014-30718/independent-spent-fuel-storage-installation-entergy-operations-inc-arkansas-nuclear-one-units-1-and However, Holtec apparently sells special canisters for damaged fuel. So, the request may actually be due to pressure from the utilities and/or the NRC upon Dr. Singh-Holtec. Here are some pictures of what seems to be Holtec’s special canisters for damaged fuel: http://curie.ornl.gov/content/damaged-fuel-canisters-snf-assemblies-picture-³courtesy-holtec-international² http://curie.ornl.gov/content/damaged-fuel-canisters-snf-assemblies-picture-³courtesy-holtec-international²-0
The lit survey – final technical report, will be available in June – AFTER people need to comment on the Holtec “exemptions”. http://pbadupws.nrc.gov/docs/ML1423/ML14238A020.pdf The High Burnup Dry Storage Cask Research and Development project is not over until 2018 (DOE-EPRI Contract Ends 15-Apr-18), and mention is made of leaving the test fuel for 10 years, until 2028.
If you read the wording below, it looks like they have chosen in advance the findings they want, and will most likely manipulate the data to get it. They want to “support” the relicensing. They would not want to find that the casks need to be replaced, because that would cost the utilities money. The cask makers, such as Areva, would almost most certainly not want their casks to be found wanting, because they would have to find a new design. While they can make money selling the casks again, they can probably make more by selling new casks, which are constantly needed as long as there is a nuclear industry.
Some believe that the sinking of the Titanic was actually caused by embrittlement. Neutron bombardment exacerbates the problem of embrittlement for nuclear reactors and waste. Furthermore, whereas the sinking of the Titanic was a personal tragedy, embrittlement for nuclear reactors or nuclear waste could be a national or international tragedy, for generations.
The original had an image of new dry casks, that we think belongs to ORNL, but the DOE credited the utility. So, we have added one showing inspection of dry cask storage from the ORNL web site. It is more appropriate than the picture of brand new dry casks.
http://www.nwtrb.gov/meetings/2014/aug/boyle.pdf (Red and yellow highlights added for emphasis. See the original at link and also at the DOE web site.)
Endnote and additional information:
 “High Burnup Dry Storage Cask Research and Development Project: Final Test Plan Contract No.: DE-NE-0000593, February 27, 2014, High Burnup Dry Storage Cask Research and Development Project, Final Test Plan , Prepared by: the Electric Power Research Institute, REVISION LOG Rev. Date Affected Pages Revision Description, February 27, 2014 Final Test Plan” http://www.energy.gov/sites/prod/files/2014/03/f8/HBUDry%20StrgeCaskRDfinalDemoTestPlanRev9.PDF