Holtec’s Proposed Consolidated Interim Storage Facility in Southeastern New Mexico
Holtec International has launched the design and licensing of an autonomous consolidated interim storage facility on ELEA, LLC’s property in southeastern New Mexico. The Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, LLC [ELEA] is a long-standing consortium of the Cities of Carlsbad & Hobbs and the Counties of Eddy & Lea, formed under New Mexico’s Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) in 2006. ELEA and Holtec have established an agreement for hosting a Consolidated Interim Story Facility (CIS) within its territory. This facility will be called HI-STORE CIS.
The HI-STORE CIS will be sited on 1,000 acres of unused land approximately halfway between the cities of Carlsbad and Hobbs, N.M. The geologically stable, dry, elevated land is located 35 miles from nearest human habitat and features a well-developed transportation infrastructure, including rail access. The land was studied extensively for its environmental characteristics during the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) process.
Holtec will license the facility with the USNRC and build and operate the HI-STORE CIS facility with the anticipated support of the US Department of Energy. HI-STORE will employ the HI-STORM UMAX technology (NRC Docket No. 72-1040), which stores the loaded canisters in a subterranean configuration. HI-STORM UMAX is widely considered by industry experts to be the last word on public safety and security.
HI-STORE CIS seeks to fulfill America’s proclaimed goal to aggregate the used nuclear fuel canisters presently scattered across the country at dozens of independent spent fuel storage installations (ISFSIs) into one or two suitable locations that have overwhelming endorsement of their respective host communities. The proposed HI-STORE CIS facility aims to fulfill the principal mission of ELEA which is focused on boosting the economic vitality of its placid corner of southern New Mexico (see map below). The initial storage capacity of HI-STORE CIS is 10,000 storage canisters which translates to approximately 120,000 metric-tons of used uranium fuel.
Instead of the irreversible act of disposing the used fuel into a repository, HI-STORE CIS will provide an interim staging facility where the fuel can be kept in an inert environment in an absolute safe and secure configuration to protect the health and safety of the facility’s staff and the local populace. The decision on the approach to deal with the used fuel stored at HI-STORE over the long term can be made at a later date after the needed technologies to deal with them have reached sufficient maturity.
HI-STORE CIS is intended to be a universal storage facility, meaning it will store any US-origin commercial nuclear fuel currently packaged in dry storage canisters, or stored in the nation’s fuel pools. Specifically, the HI-STORE CIS will accept a loaded Canister of any provenance: whether they are horizontally stored canisters in Areva’s NUHOMS or vertical canisters in NAC’s (a subsidiary of Hitachi Zosen) or the legacy canisters supplied by now- extinct suppliers – they all will be storable in HI-STORE CIS. No repackaging of fuel will be required for storing at HI-STORE CIS.
Some of the compelling attributes of HI-STORE CIS that speak to its transformative benefits and underlie its enthused acceptance by the nuclear savvy New Mexico’s citizenry are:
Safe and Secure
The canisters are stored in-the-ground in concrete & steel cavities that make them essentially impregnable to the societal threats that have emerged in the 21st century. The HI-STORE CIS storage facility, consisting of HI-STORM UMAX vertical ventilated system, is engineered to be immune to extreme environmental phenomena such as hurricanes, floods, tornados and earthquakes. HI-STORE CIS is designed to withstand a crashing aircraft or an (improbable) on-site fire without any radiological consequences.
Minimum Radiation Dose to the Plant Personnel
HI-STORM UMAX is engineered to maximize safety of the workers (who will be local residents) and minimize the radiation dose to the environment. The HI-STORE CIS facility can emptied of its canisters (defueled) with utmost ease and maximum safety.
With appropriate ancillaries on hand, a canister in the HI-STORE CIS facility can be placed into storage, or removed from storage in less than eight hours.
Zero Radiological Release to the Environment
The facility is environmentally benign releasing no effluents or emitting no emissions. The radiation dose at the site boundary computes to a small fraction of the cosmic radiation that bathes our planet.
Compact & Inconspicuous
The HI-STORE CIS storage facility is visually inconspicuous. Its profile is less than 610 mm (2 ft.) tall, making it a less visible target from the air and less visible from public land. There are no areas on the ISFSI where a person may hide, making breach of security pretty nigh impossible.
The facility is quite compact consuming a small fraction of the 1000 acre site. Most of the 1000 acres allotted to HI-STORE CIS will be vacant land.
NO adverse effect on wild life forms
An Environmental report prepared for the HI-STORE CIS site indicates that the facility will have negligible impact on the local flora and fauna or the local fowl & critters that inhabit the land. There is not even the remotest possibility of contamination of ground water.
Will shrug off the strongest of earthquakes
In due deference to Mother Nature, the design Basis seismic intensity level assumed for the facility corresponds to a 10,000-year -return Earthquake. (Typical for the presently operating nuclear plants is 100-year-return Earthquake)
All-welded Canisters made to the most stringent Codes
The fuel is contained inside all-welded stainless steel canisters (no bolted joints) that allow no pathway for the radiological matter to escape to the environment. The expected service life of each Canister in the high & dry plateau of New Mexico is tens of thousands of years; the proposed service life of the facility requested from the USNRC is a conservative 120 years.
HI-STORE CIS Leadership
Technology and community leaders committed to establishing HI-STORE CIS are profiled below: