FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating, a unit of FirstEnergy (NYSE: FE), said Sept. 17 that it plans to expand used nuclear fuel storage capacity at its two-unit Beaver Valley plant in Shippingport, Pa.
Above-ground, airtight steel and concrete canisters will be installed that provide cooling to used fuel assemblies through natural air circulation. The canisters will be stored on a thick concrete pad located within Beaver Valley’s secured area, providing additional safety assurance, the company noted. The storage system will be monitored closely by trained personnel and the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to assure its integrity.
Initial installation will consist of six canisters, with up to 47 extra canisters added as needed. Construction of the fuel storage system is slated to begin in fall 2012, with operations starting in 2014.
“Installation of additional used fuel storage capacity is vital to the future operation of the Beaver Valley station,” said Beaver Valley Site Vice President Paul Harden. “With the safety and health of the public and environment the top priority, much effort went in to the planning and selection of the used fuel storage system. Having the system in place will ensure Beaver Valley remains a safe and reliable source of energy for years to come.”
The NRC-approved canister system is a proven safe and effective method for storage of used nuclear fuel, FirstEnergy said. Similar systems are in place at more than 60 other nuclear sites in the U.S., including FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating’s Davis-Besse plant near Toledo, Ohio, and Perry plant in Perry, Ohio.
Since Beaver Valley Unit 1 begain operation in 1976 and Unit 2 in 1987, the used fuel assemblies have been stored in an indoor, steel-lined pool within the power station. Approximately 40% of each unit’s 157 fuel assemblies are replaced and then stored in the pool following each 18-month operating cycle. The fuel pool is expected to reach full storage capacity by 2015. Because a national storage site for used nuclear fuel has not yet been developed, Beaver Valley must plan for additional storage space, the company pointed out.