Spent Fuel Management

Spent fuel (SF) is generated as a by-product from the operation of nuclear power and research reactors. According to the Atomic Act (Act. No. 263/2016 Coll.) „in addition to the requirements arising from other provisions of this Act, the same requirements as those applicable to radioactive waste shall apply to spent fuel until such time that it is declared radioactive waste by the producer in the radioactive waste accompanying document or by the Office by a decision“ (Section 110 Article 1).

For the safe storage of SF unloaded from reactor core there is a SF pool available next to each reactor at both NPPs. In these pools SF is stored as long as necessary to reduce the heat generation rate. Then SF is transported to already available facilities (ISFSF Dukovany, SFSF Dukovany or SFSF Temelín), where it is stored for several decades. Dry storage is mastered, verified and practically wasteless technology based on the isolation of SF in dual purpose casks for transport and storage.

SF generated by the operation of research reactors is managed in a similar way – storage in reactor pool and consecutive transport to the Higher-Level Waste Storage Facility at the ÚJV Řež, a. s. site, where it can be stored under both wet and dry storage conditions. Late November and early December 2007 SF was transported, using a combination of road and railway transport means, from the research reactors in ÚJV Řež, a. s. to the Russian Federation for reprocessing. The transport was performed within the framework of initiative seeking to minimize threat of misuse of nuclear materials for terrorist purposes (Global Threat Reduction Initiative - GTRI), as a part of the program focusing on returning of fuel from research reactors back to the Russian Federation (RRRFR). The program is a three-party initiative of the USA, Russian Federation and IAEA. The shipment contained also low enriched SF from already decommissioned VVR-S reactor, whose repacking was funded by the former National Property Fund of the Czech Republic within the framework of old ecological liabilities in ÚJV Řež a. s. The preparation of the transport and the transport itself was performed by private and state organizations from the Czech Republic, USA, Russian Federation, transit countries and by the IAEA. Second transport of HEU SF was performed in 2013. Since this time all research reactors use only LEU fuel and no HEU fuel is in the Czech Republic. Further details can be found at the IAEA web site.

Due to high radioactivity and significant content of long-lived radionuclides is is expected that SF will be disposed (e. g. permanently placed) in deep geological host rock formations, even if reprocessing technologies are already commercially available and are used in reprocessing plants (France, UK, Russian Federation). After the storage period SF will be transported to the planned geological repository, where it will be repacked into the disposal casks and then disposed. Long-term storage followed by direct disposal of SF in geological repository is considered in the “Policy of Radioactive Waste Management and Spent Fuel Management”, approved by the Government, as the basic national SF management policy. On the other hand construction and operation of SF storage facilities allows to follow “wait-and-see” strategy and depending on future options to reprocess the SF or use technologies which are at present time under development. But even in the latter case these technologies will produce high-level waste which has to be disposed in geological repository.

Information on SF storage facilities and other nuclear fuel cycle facilities are showed in following table generated by the IAEA Nuclear Fuel Cycle Information System (NFCIS). The information was updated in 2017.

Facility Name

Facility Type

Status

Scale

Design Capacity

GEAM Dolni Rozinka (from 1957)

Uranium Mining and Milling

Closed 

Commercial

-

ISFSF Dukovany (from 1995)

Spent Fuel Storage

In operation

Commercial

600 tHM

MAPE Mydlovary Processing Plant (in operation from 1962 to 1991)

Uranium Mining and Milling

Decommissioned

Commercial

-

SFSF Dukovany (from 2008)

Spent Fuel Storage

In operation

Commercial

1340 tHM

SFSF Temelin (from 2012) 

Spent Fuel Storage

In operation

Commercial

1370 tHM

TUU Straz pod Ralskem: Processing Plant and ISL Plant (from 1967 to 1995)

Uranium Mining and Milling

Decommissioning

Commercial

250 tU/year

As a consequence of the accident in NPP Fukushima-Daiichi the Czech Republic agreed to perform stress test required by the European Council. They include also the assessment of the safety of reactor SF storage pools for each unit in NPP Dukovany and NPP Temelín.

Other SF management facilities - AFR dry and wet SF storage facilities, are not a subject of these tests, because the status and safety of similar storage installations at the NPP Fukushima-Daiichi site was not seriously affected by the earthquake and following tsunami wave on 11 March 2011. There was no release of radioactive substances to the environment from these facilities. In this way it was demonstrated that especially dry cask storage facilities due to their passive safety features are sufficiently robust and resistant to withstand even some beyond design basis accidents. 

Further information on the management of spent fuel at the contact address:

Státní úřad pro jadernou bezpečnost
Department of RAW and SF Management
Senovážné náměstí 9
CZ-110 00 Praha 1
Czech Republic

e-mail:RAW@sujb.cz