Analysis by simulation of the disposition of nuclear fuel waste

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Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University


To achieve the non-proliferation objectives of the United States, the reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel was discontinued in 1977. Since current at-reactor storage capacity is based upon a nuclear fuel cycle which includes reprocessing, this halt in reprocessing is causing large quantities of non-storable spent fuel. Permanent nuclear waste storage repositories will not be available until the end of the century. Present Department of Energy policy calls for sufficient interim Away-Prom-Reactor (AFR) Storage capacity to insure tilat no commercial reactor has to shut down due to inadequate storage space for discharged spent fuel.

A descriptive simulation model is developed which includes all aspects of nuclear waste disposition. The model is comprised of two systems, the second system orchestrated by GASP IV. A spent fuel generation prediction module is interfaced with the AFR Program Management Information System and a repository scheduling information module. The user is permitted a wide range of options with which to tailor the simulation to any desired storage scenario. The model projects storage requirements through the year 2020.

The outputs are evaluations of the impact that alternative decision policies and milestone date changes have on the demand for, the availability of, and the utilization of spent fuel storage capacities. Both graphs and detailed listings are available. These outputs give a comprehensive view of the particular scenario under observation, including the tracking, by year, discharge from every reactor.

Included within the work is a review of the status of spent fuel disposition based on input data accurate as of August 1980. The results indicate that some temporary storage techniques (e.g., transshipment of fuel and/or additional at-reactor storage pools) must be utilized to prevent reactor shutdowns. These techniques will be required until the 1990’s when several AFR facilities, and possibly one repository, can become operational.