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Spent Nuclear Fuel Management

Brian Gutherman, P.E.
Course #2022012
PDH: 4 hrs
Price: $35.00

Course Description

This engineering continuing education course provides a general overview of the management of spent nuclear fuel discharged from commercial nuclear power plants. Since the first demonstration reactors became operational in the 1960s, the question of final disposition of the spent nuclear fuel arising from their operation has lingered. Responsibility for spent nuclear fuel disposition has never been in dispute; the federal government has long acknowledged its obligation to remove from the sites and permanently dispose of all commercial reactor spent nuclear fuel. However, the details of designing and executing a plan for spent nuclear fuel disposition has been the subject of political and public disagreement for several decades, and a resolution is still not at hand.

Nuclear power plants were not designed to store an entire lifetime’s worth of spent fuel discharged from the reactors. The in-plant storage capacity was designed with the understanding that the federal government would eventually begin removing the spent fuel from the sites, allowing the in-plant capability to be solely an interim storage location for the most recently discharged spent fuel. The federal government’s lack of a program to remove and dispose of the spent fuel has resulted in the nuclear plant owners and federal regulators having to devise and implement a framework to augment the in-plant storage capacity with other on-site storage solutions.

Given this backdrop, this course necessarily begins with a brief summary of the advent of commercial nuclear energy production and the evolution of federal policy, law, and regulations surrounding spent nuclear fuel disposition. Having a basic understanding the underlying policy, law, and regulations is vital to gaining a grasp on why spent nuclear fuel today continues to be stored at the plant sites.

The course proceeds from the policy, law and regulation into a discussion of the design and operation of different spent nuclear fuel storage facilities and equipment. A brief discussion of off-site consolidated interim storage solutions follows the sections pertaining to on-site storage. A summary of the transportation package designs to be used to ship spent nuclear fuel from the sites follows the storage discussion. The course ends with a brief statement on the current status of spent nuclear fuel disposal.

This course will provide 4 professional development hours (PDH) and has a 20 question quiz which must be completed.