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Spent Fuel Shipments

Spent Fuel Shipments

ŠKODA VPVR/M Cask

The Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) was initiated by the U.S. Government to reduce the risk of a nuclear or radiological materials terrorist attack. The mission of the GTRI is to remove and/or secure high-risk nuclear and radiological materials and equipment around the world that pose a threat to the United States and to the international community. This procurement falls under the Department of Energy’s Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return (RRRFR) Program, a GTRI initiative. The Nuclear Nonproliferation Resources Department of the Idaho National Laboratory (INL) is supporting the RRRFR Program through administration of this contract and by providing a Project Country Officer (PCO) who provides technical oversight of the contracts.

Since December 1999 representatives from the United States, the Russian Federation, and the International Atomic Energy Agency have been working on a program to return to Russia Soviet- or Russian-supplied high-enriched uranium (HEU) fuel currently stored at foreign research reactors. The primary goal of this Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return (RRRFR) Program is to advance nuclear nonproliferation objectives by eliminating stockpiles of HEU and encouraging eligible countries to convert their research reactors from HEU to low-enriched uranium (LEU) fuel upon availability, qualification, and licensing of suitable LEU fuel.

To transport the large quantities of HEU spent nuclear fuel (SNF) stored at many of the Russian origin research reactors required that the RRRFR Program identify and/or develop a new large capacity cask system.
However, there were not enough existing casks available to meet the needs of the Program so the decision was made to procure new cask systems.
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) agreed to assist DOE by sending out a request for proposal and procurement of a new cask system. To effectively and efficiently handle this HEU-SNF the IAEA selected a new transport/storage cask system called the ŠKODA VPVR/M cask.

OS ŠKODA VPVR/M

ŠKODA VPVR/M Cask

The SKODA VPVR/M is a type B(U) and S cask system designed and licensed for transport and storage of spent nuclear fuel of Russian origin research reactors. The SKODA VPVR/M cask has a unique design in that allows it to be either top or bottom loaded/unloaded. The cask consists of a massive cast steel cylindrical body. The upper and lower parts the body are tapered, which was done to minimize the overall cask weight to accommodate the limited overhead crane limits in most research reactor facilities. The cask internal walls have a hot aluminium spray coating. The SNF basket inside the cask has 36 square ports for holding the assemblies during transport and storage and is made out of atabor (boron treated steel) sheets. There is a central suspension/hanger rod down the middle of the basket that is used to raise or lower the basket out of the cask.

The cask has a system of two upper and two lower lids each independently bolted to the cask body. To provide containment during transport and storage, each lid has metallic Helicoflex gaskets. These gaskets are replaced by elastymer o-ring seals when the cask is transported empty. See Figure 1 – a schematic of the cask. Table 1 identifies the cask components and specifications.

ŠKODA VPVR/M Cask

NRI, Czech Republic (NRI) cask owner experience gained from the use of unique high capacity transport and storage ŠKODA VPVR/M cask technology. The cask is licensed for nearly all types of Russian origin research reactor fuel (package design licenses, transport permissions). NRI is participating in the Russian Research Reactor Fuel Return (RRRFR) program incorporated in the Russian Federation – United States common activity Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) supported by the IAEA. Within the scope of this project, the high enriched uranium (HEU) and low enriched uranium (LEU) spent nuclear fuel (SNF) from 7 countries (in total 8 successful shipments already completed) was removed and returned back to the RF Mayak facility in 2007-2010 using ŠKODA VPVR/M cask transport packaging system (NRI TPS).

The NRI role and activity in the program is based on performing the NRI TPS inspections and maintenance, assuring the transportation of the empty ŠKODA VPVR/M casks in special ISO containers, and cask handling auxiliary equipment / accessories in service ISO containers to the user, providing instruction and recommendations for the research reactor facility modifications, foreign country research reactor staff education and training to handle the casks, reviewing the user cask handling operational procedures, performing special technical support (cask drying and He-leak testing), supervising the SNF loading into the casks, and mounting of the loaded casks into special ISO containers. These activities are covered by a long term Cask Custodian Contract between the NRI and US DOE valid until the year 2014 and Cask Lease and Use Agreements and Service Contracts between the NRI and cask Users.

Spent Nuclear Fuel Return – Photogallery