Indiana Michigan Power, a unit of AEP (NYSE: AEP), has started the initial loading work for moving used fuel assemblies from the 2,107 MW Cook Nuclear Plant’s spent fuel pool into the recently completed dry cask storage facility.
Plans are to load 14 casks, each with 32 used assemblies. It takes about one week to load, seal, prepare and move one cask from inside the plant’s Auxiliary Building to the storage facility. The loading work is expected to continue until early November.
Cook has stored used fuel in a steel-lined concrete pool, but that pool is nearly full. Workers have expanded the storage capacity twice, but further expansion is not feasible.
The storage facility is a specially designed, two-acre concrete pad near the center of the plant property. The pad can hold 94 casks, which would support operation of both units through their current licenses of 2034 and 2037, and it could be expanded to ease removal of all fuel assemblies from the spent fuel pool and decommissioning of both units.
The casks are licensed by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC). The two-foot thick steel-reinforced concrete pad is surrounded by a double row of high security fencing. There is continuous electronic surveillance, daily direct observation and intervention response capabilities coordinated with local law enforcement. Compliance with NRC license radiation limits would result in no measurable difference in radiation levels at the plant boundary due to the dry cask facility. The facility will be isolated from public view and contact.
The used fuel will be sealed in airtight stainless steel canisters with concrete and steel over packs that provide both structural strength and radiation shielding. The storage casks are 18 feet tall and fully loaded weigh 195 tons with three-foot thick walls. The casks are designed to withstand natural disasters, sabotage, missiles, aircraft and temperature extremes. Casks are cooled by natural air circulation and no mechanical or electrical support systems are needed.
There are currently 63 dry cask storage facilities licensed by the NRC in 33 states. The casks are licensed for 20 years with possible renewal for 40 additional years.
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