As our readers know, one key goal of our small modular reactor program (SMR-160), is to enable the reactor to be sited at water challenged locales. This goal can be met if, and only if, the plant’s exhaust steam can be condensed by air, rather than water. The contemporary Air Cooled Condenser (ACC) technology unfortunately suffers from the critical limitation that the tubes carrying the steam must be made of carbon steel which severely limits the service life of the ACC.
We respect the Department of Energy’s (DOE) decision to make only one award at this time from four applications it received in May of this year for the Small Modular Reactor (SMR) Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA). We applaud the DOE’s decision to seek additional FOA awardees in another round of solicitation which is consistent with the Department’s role to serve as a catalyst and not a pre-selector of the best technology. Holtec International is hopeful that the Company will merit an award in the second round of DOE’s solicitation on the strength of our reactor’s unrivaled safety features, cost competitiveness, innovative security features, and operational reliability.
Holtec International is pleased to announce the signing of a 10-year fleet-wide contract with the Tennessee Valley Authority (TVA) for providing the goods and services necessary to assist TVA’s dry cask storage of used nuclear fuel. The scope to be performed by Holtec through this long term partnership includes the establishment of a Watts Bar Nuclear Plant dry cask storage program as a Client Assisted Turnkey undertaking. It also includes the continuing supply of dry cask storage equipment and services to the Browns Ferry Nuclear Plant (BFN) and the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant (SQN).
We are pleased to announce the completion of the development of an underground used fuel storage technology, termed HI-STORM CIS, to store large quantities of used nuclear fuel at a Consolidated Interim Storage (CIS) facility envisioned by the Blue Ribbon Commission. Begun in the wake of 9/11, Holtec’s underground storage technology has steadily matured over the past 10 years. The HI-STORM CIS facility (see schematic below) is the next generation underground storage design that will house used fuel packaged in any canister supplied by any cask vendor. The HI-STORM CIS features a monitored underground storage cavity with the used fuel’s decay heat passively rejected to the ambient air above and its radiation contained within the earth’s subterranean continuum. The radiation released to the environment from the HI-STORM CIS facility storing vast quantities of used fuel equates to a fraction of the background cosmic and solar radiation that pervades our planet, i.e., negligibly small.
We are pleased to announce that Mr. Douglas Weaver has joined Holtec International as the Vice President of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs. Mr. Weaver is a graduate of Princeton University where he received a Bachelor’s Degree in Mechanical Engineering and has over 25 years of nuclear power experience. Upon graduation, Mr. Weaver entered the United States Navy where he served as an instructor at the Nuclear Power Training Unit in Windsor, CT, and also as a division officer aboard the USS Louisville (SSN-724), where he qualified as Chief Engineer. After leaving active duty, Mr. Weaver joined the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission and has served in a variety of progressively more responsible positions in the field and at Headquarters. For the past three years, Mr. Weaver was Deputy Director of the Spent Fuel Storage and Transportation Division. Prior to that he served as the Deputy Chief of Staff for (former) USNRC Chairman Klein and directed the work planning and scheduling branch in the Office of New Reactors. Early in his NRC career, Mr. Weaver qualified as an inspector in Region I and then served for several years in the NRC’s Incident Response Center and as a Senior Emergency Response Coordinator.
Commencement of the movement of used fuel from the storage pool in Unit 3 to the storage pool in Unit 2 at Entergy’s Indian Point Energy Center (IPEC) this week marks the successful culmination of more than three years of work. Holtec International successfully labored at developing a safe set of equipment, processes, and procedures to enable the transfer of used fuel, fully submerged in water, from one fuel pool to another. Under the performance and team-oriented leadership of Joe DeFrancesco, Entergy’s Project Manager, the site will safely place used fuel from Unit 3 into dry storage without the need for extensive modifications to the Unit 3 fuel storage building. This “wet transfer” operation utilizes a Holtec designed Shielded Transfer Canister (STC) designed to hold up to 12 PWR assemblies, and an external shield cask (a HI-TRAC transfer cask). Wet transfer of fuel is admittedly a technically complex evolution because of the two-phase condition (water and steam) that may exist within the cask’s cavity. The benefits of wet transfer, however, are quite compelling. Most prominent is the fact that the fuel remains in its native aqueous environment throughout the transfer process.
We are pleased to report that the widely encountered problem of moving modern loaded casks across the nuclear plant’s “truck bay” (typically) designed for much lighter casks of 1970s vintage has been solved. The truck bay in a power plant is the main artery that links the plant to the outside world: It is the area through which all payloads used by the plant (component and machinery) must come and go. Unfortunately, truck bay slabs in a number of U.S. and overseas plants have local areas of structural deficiency that do not permit a modern full size cask, weighing as much as 200 tons, to be hauled across the bay in a conventional manner. This problem has forced some plants in the past to install support columns and girders to buttress the slab at a considerable expense. Others have resorted to temporary palliatives such as “load distribution systems” that must be assembled at each cask loading campaign and disassembled thereafter at considerable effort and cost. A cumbersome structure in the Truck Bay evidently is also an (undesirable) impediment to the movement of tools and equipment into and out of the plant.