The last spent nuclear fuel elements from the Advanced Test Reactor (ATR) at U.S. Idaho National Laboratory (INL) have been retrieved from a water-filled storage basin and transferred to a nearby dry-storage facility.

Just one fuel type — Experimental Breeder Reactor-II (EBR-II) spent fuel elements — remains in the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE’s) largest spent nuclear fuel storage basin managed by the U.S. Department of Energy. These spent nuclear fuel elements are scheduled for transfer to dry storage or to undergo processing at another INL facility by December 2023. After the remaining 1,193 bottles of EBR-II spent nuclear fuel are removed, the basin will be drained of water and closed.

The pressurized water 250 MW ATR has been operated by DOE Office of Nuclear Energy contractor Battelle Energy Alliance since the late 1960s, providing a test bed for nuclear technology research as well as medical isotopes for the treatment of cancer and other diseases. The EBR-II operated at the former U.S. Argonne National Laboratory-West, now the Materials and Fuels Complex, from 1964 until 1994, delivering power for INL in addition to reactor research benefits.

Following the complete transfer to dry storage, the spent nuclear fuel will be prepared to be transported from the state for interim storage or sent to a national geologic repository by 2035.

To contact the author of this article, email shimmelstein@globalspec.com