New Mexico Officials Visit Callaway Energy Center and Its Below-Ground Fuel Storage Facility

We thank the leadership of Ameren Missouri’s Callaway Energy Center in Callaway County, Missouri, for graciously hosting the elected officials and business leaders from New Mexico interested in learning about Holtec International’s
HI-STORM UMAX technology which Holtec has proposed for deployment at the ELEA property in Southeastern New Mexico. The Callaway senior management team welcomed State Legislators, Carlsbad City Councilors, a Lea County Commissioner, the Lea County Manager, the Lea County Economic Development President, and the New Mexico President of the NAACP. Holtec Senior Vice President Joy Russell and HI-STORE Program Director Ed Mayer also participated to provide answers to technical questions.

The visit included an in-depth briefing on the history of Callaway, plant operations and used fuel storage at the facility, personal safety and security protocols, and a facility tour.

The New Mexico officials were escorted into the nuclear plant by trained individuals who have worked for decades at the Callaway Energy Center. The group received an up-close view of how nuclear fuel assemblies are safely stored in the plant’s wet storage pool (in High-Density Spent Fuel Storage Racks developed and supplied by Holtec International in the mid-1990s). “It was not what I expected, very peaceful and yet you know you are witnessing an important step in the used fuel storage process,” said Edward Rodriguez, Carlsbad City Councilor, of the large pool of water containing the spent fuel assemblies.

The highlight of the tour was access to the plant’s Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI), where Holtec’s state-of-the-art HI-STORM UMAX subterranean dry storage system has been in service at Callaway since 2015 (see photo below). There are currently 30 canisters in storage at the Callaway ISFSI, safely storing 1,100 spent nuclear fuel assemblies.

The Callaway ISFSI uses the same technology that is proposed for Holtec’s HI-STORE Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in southeast New Mexico. The trip to Callaway enabled the visitors to see for themselves the impregnable construction of the HI-STORM UMAX storage system and the vanishingly small radiation dose emanating from it; indeed, a small fraction of the cosmic radiation that surrounds us. Another point of note is the ease of moving the stored canisters to the final repository that became apparent to the visitors.

“I’m very excited to be here and see for myself the safety and robustness of the storage system. This tour gave me firsthand knowledge to accurately educate my constituents,” said Jonathan Sena, Lea County  Commissioner.

NRC Licensing Update for Holtec’s Proposed HI-STORE CISF

Holtec International’s efforts are nearing completion to obtain a Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) license to operate the
HI-STORE consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) in southeastern New Mexico on land owned by the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA).

The license application for the HI-STORE CISF was submitted to the USNRC on March 31, 2017 and accepted by the USNRC in February 2018 (USNRC Docket No. 72-1051). Since then, the Holtec team has diligently answered the NRC’s technical questions and participated in various public meetings focused on the safety and environmental aspects of the HI-STORE license application process.

“Holtec expects an NRC decision on the license possibly in March. Before that announcement, we should receive the final environmental impact statement and the safety evaluation report in the early months of 2022,” said Ed Mayer, Holtec’s
HI-STORE Program Director.

“The NRC license process for the HI-STORE interim storage facility has been a long journey, but we are nearing the finish line for licensing and are excited to begin the next steps of the project,” said Mayer.