Planning for Wolf Creek nuclear storage is briefly shelved

Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corp. (WCNOC) told the Kansas State Corporation Commission that it is working up designs, on a delayed schedule, for a dry cask nuclear waste facility at the Wolf Creek power plant.

WCNOC’s three owners are Kansas Gas and Electric d/b/a Westar Energy, Kansas City Power & Light and Kansas Electric Power Cooperative. WCNOC filed a Feb. 20 brief at the commission in response to the commission’s Jan. 2 order seeking responses to seven questions dealing with the potential for, and possible effects of, installing an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) at Wolf Creek Generating Station (WCGS).

The commission asked for: a time frame for filing an application with the Nuclear Regulatory Commission; a time frame for development, construction and permitting for an ISFSI; estimated annual costs associated with an ISFSI; estimated total costs associated with an ISFSI; how the estimated costs in were determined; how the parties plan to recover costs associated with an ISFSI; and an anticipated timetable for recovering those costs.

“It first should be noted that although the Joint Parties recognize that an ISFSI likely will be needed at WCGS in the future, the need is some years away, and planning for an ISFSI still is in the very early stages,” the company noted. “Many of the key decisions regarding design of the facility and its location on the plant site, the type of equipment to be used, who the designer, equipment suppliers, and builder of the facility will be, and how the facility will be operated are yet to be made. Therefore, the Joint Parties’ answers to the Commission’s questions will not be as specific or detailed as the Commission may have expected.”

Because the Wolf Creek Spent Fuel Pool will reach its maximum storage capacity for spent fuel assemblies by the mid-2020s, and because it appears highly unlikely that an offsite spent fuel disposal or storage facility will become available by that time, it has become necessary for the parties to consider installation of additional capability to store spent fuel at WCGS somewhere other than in the spent fuel pool, the company noted. The most feasible alternative, chosen by numerous other nuclear power plant operators in the U.S., is to store the additional assemblies outside the fuel building in specially designed, licensed and constructed dry casks. These facilities are commonly referred to as an ISFSI.

WCNOC said it contracted with a firm to prepare a feasibility study for the ISFSI project and to determine an optimal location for the ISFSI. WCNOC will use the results of that study to aid it in making the key decisions necessary for developing and ultimately operating the facility. Because of other more critical and urgent plant projects that are under way now, WCNOC management decided to suspend during 2013 any additional work on the ISFSI for a year. Plans are to resume work on this project in 2014.

WCNOC’s current plan for executing the ISFSI project is as follows:

  • 2014 – Issue requests for quotes, receive proposals, award contracts, begin design development.
  • 2015-2016 – Vendor design and procurement, develop and issue plant design change packages and field work packages, install pad, lighting, security systems, construct necessary additional buildings, establish haul path.
  • 2017-2018 – Receive system and install components, install transfer equipment, perform site acceptance testing, notify the NRC of the plant’s intent to begin dry storage of spent fuel, prepare for first load campaign in the fall 2018.

Wolf Creek Generating Station is located in Coffey County, Kansas, northeast of Burlington. It has a total capacity of about 1,200 MW, with the ownership shares broken down this way: Westar Energy 47%; KCP&L 47%; and KEPCO 6%.

About Barry Cassell 20414 Articles
Barry Cassell is Chief Analyst for GenerationHub covering coal and emission controls issues, projects and policy. He has covered the coal and power generation industry for more than 24 years, beginning in November 2011 at GenerationHub and prior to that as editor of SNL Energy’s Coal Report. He was formerly with Coal Outlook for 15 years as the publication’s editor and contributing writer, and prior to that he was editor of Coal & Synfuels Technology and associate editor of The Energy Report. He has a bachelor’s degree from Central Michigan University.