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Fluor Idaho completes first spent nuclear fuel shipments

Flour Idaho crane
Flour Idaho
Crews use a crane to lower a canister filled with spent nuclear fuel into a liner inside the Radioactive Scrap and Waste Facility at the Idaho National Laboratory Site.

IDAHO FALLS, Idaho (KIFI/KIDK) - Fluor Idaho has completed two of about 40 planned shipments of spent nuclear fuel to a temporary storage area at the Idaho National Laboratory. It moves the Department of Energy closer to meeting its commitment with the state of Idaho to transfer the material from “wet” to “dry” storage by 2023.

Fluor Idaho employees retrieved the fuel from an underwater basin at the Chemical Processing Plant located at the Idaho Nuclear Technology and Engineering Center (INTEC). It was transferred to a shipping cask which was transported to a facility at the Materials and Fuel Complex.

The Radioactive Scrap and Waste Facility measures almost 450 feet long and 390 feet wide.  It was originally built to receive remote handled transuranic waste but was modified as a temporary storage area for the fuel.

 “The first shipments went off perfectly,” said Russ Cottam, Fluor Idaho spent nuclear fuel manager. “Our crews had practiced the processes using a mock-up and used a mobile crane and forklift to simulate the conditions at the RSWF. The placement of fuel at RSWF went according to plan.

Fluor Idaho said workers are scheduled to make as many as 38 additional shipments of the fuel this year and into 2021.

The fuel originated from Experimental Breeder Reactor II, which operated at Argonne National Laboratory West (now MFC) from 1964 to 1994. 

The spent nuclear fuel basin at INTEC is now nearly 95% empty.

The 5-year, $1.4 billion cleanup project is funded by the Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management.

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