Calvert Cliffs Applies for Waste Storage License

By Guy Leonard, The Calvert County Times, guyleonard [at]

HOLLYWOOD, Md. (Sept. 4, 2014)—An application made by the Exelon Corporation several years ago that would allow the continued storage of spent nuclear fuel rods at their facility for the next 40 years can now go ahead after a ruling by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last week.

The power plant currently operates what is known as a dry cask storage facility that it has been operating; it applied for an extension of its current license back in 2010 but nuclear regulators were still debating policy and environmental impacts of storage on site.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) ruled last week that power plants could continue storing the spent fuel rods on their plant sites without onerous effects on the environment.

Their ruling allowed many applications that had been held up by the process to move ahead.

Federal regulators are asking Exelon for more information on their application specifics, according to NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan.

The dry cask is an alternative to the more traditional method of storing spent radioactive fuel in a pool of water.

The casks are constructed of concrete and steel that would hold a basket containing the spent fuel rods; the walls of the storage area that holds the cask would be three feet thick according to the NRC.

One holding area would hold one cask and each cask would hold 24 bundles of spent fuel rods.

Sheehan said that there are currently 63 holding areas at Calvert Cliffs that are loaded with storage casks.

“There are usually several dozen rods in an assembly but it depends on the design,” Sheehan said.

The current site at Calvert Cliffs has a total of 72 such storage modules with nine yet to be filled according to the NRC.

The alternative dry storage area has been in operation for decades, according to Sheehan.

“They’ve had a [dry storage] facility since the 1980s,” he said.

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