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Energy news from Omaha Public Power District


Familiar feel to dry cask work

March 15, 2018 | Jason Kuiper | decommissioning, Fort Calhoun Station
dry cask

In selecting a company to build the new dry cask storage facility at Fort Calhoun Nuclear Station, OPPD officials selected an experienced company.

OPPD awarded the bid to TN Americas, a subsidiary of Washington D.C.-based Orano USA, after determining the company offered the total lowest cost of ownership over the life of the project through final decommissioning.

what is it?

The facility will house the fuel assemblies from FCS, which will be transferred from wet storage to dry storage by sometime in 2020. The fuel assemblies are currently held on the site in the “spent fuel” pool.

TN Americas built the current system in use at FCS. Dry cask storage systems shield radiation, manage heat, prevent nuclear fission, and provide the greatest level of safety. The facilities are built to withstand the most extreme weather scenarios, including fires, winds up to 500 mph and flooding. They also protect against impacts from large commercial aircraft. The heat generated by a used fuel cask is typically less than that from a home heating system.

Factors considered in selecting TN Americas included:

  • Eventual transport and disposal costs to the Department of Energy’s final Nuclear Waste Repository.
  • Lowest loading and installed radiological dose to workers and at the storage site.
  • Licensed for “Greater-Than-Class C” low-level nuclear waste offsite transfer, the only vendor currently having this qualification.
  • One system onsite, allowing OPPD to maintain one license and management program.

OPPD completed prep work to prepare for the dry cask project, including fuel characterization last year. In all, personnel inspected each of the 944 fuel assemblies currently in wet fuel storage.

FCS_Dry cask 2

Originally, OPPD along with the nation’s other nuclear facilities, planned to store the spent fuel at a centralized facility under the 1982 Nuclear Waste Policy Act. That project is currently on hold.

The spent fuel consists of uranium ore fuel pellets housed in nuclear fuel bundles. Use depletes the bundles’ energy, when they become nuclear waste. Without a federal centralized storage option, and several expansions of the spent fuel pool, a dry cask storage facility was built at FCS in 2004.

Fabrication of the concrete storage structures will begin this summer, using a local concrete supplier and cast on site. The metal canisters that contain the fuel bundles are installed inside the concrete structures. They will be fabricated in the U.S. and delivered to the site. Fabrication could be finished by the fall of 2019.

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About Jason Kuiper

Jason Kuiper joined OPPD as a communications specialist in 2015. He is a former staff writer and reporter at the Omaha World-Herald, where he covered a wide range of topics but spent the majority of his career covering crime. He is a graduate of the University of Nebraska at Omaha and has also appeared in several true crime documentary shows. In his free time he enjoys cooking, spending time with his wife and three children, and reading crime novels.

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