NRC finds no significant impact for extension of Prairie Island spent fuel site

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is considering a license renewal for an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI) facility at the Prairie Island nuclear plant in Minnesota.

Xcel Energy (NYSE:XEL) utility Northern States Power operates the Prairie Island nuclear plant and its dry cask storage facility.

Prairie Island Units 1 and 2 operate under different licenses from the spent fuel storage facility. The licenses for Units 1 and 2 are scheduled to expire 2033 and 2034. The nuclear power units are pressurized water reactors (PWRs) with a combined generating capacity of more than 1,000 MW.

NRC’s consideration of License No. SNM–2506 is outlined in the July 1 Federal Register. The original license for the spent fuel facility was issued in 1993.

Based on its environmental assessment NRC has determined that an environmental impact statement is not required for the proposed license renewal, and is issuing a finding of no significant impact (FONSI).

The original license allows the company to use dry cask storage for spent fuel from Units 1 and 2 at Prairie Island. License SNM–2506 currently allows the utility to store up to 48 Transnuclear-40 (TN–40) casks and TN–40 high thermal (TN–40HT) casks at the facility.

On October 20, 2011, the licensee submitted their application for a 40-year license renewal. In October 2012, the NRC and the Prairie Island Indian Community (PIIC) entered into a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).

The proposed action is whether to renew the site-specific ISFSI license for an additional 40 years provided that NRC requirements are met.

Spent fuel assemblies from Units 1 and 2 not already stored at the spent fuel storage facility are currently stored onsite in a spent fuel pool. The Prairie Island spent fuel pool does not have the needed capacity to store all the spent nuclear fuel that Units 1 and 2 would generate through the end of their license term.

NRC staff has determined that renewing the license for an additional 40 years will not significantly affect the quality of the human environment.

About Wayne Barber 4201 Articles
Wayne Barber, Chief Analyst for the GenerationHub, has been covering power generation, energy and natural resources issues at national publications for more than 20 years. Prior to joining PennWell he was editor of Generation Markets Week at SNL Financial for nine years. He has also worked as a business journalist at both McGraw-Hill and Financial Times Energy. Wayne also worked as a newspaper reporter for several years. During his career has visited nuclear reactors and coal mines as well as coal and natural gas power plants. Wayne can be reached at