On May 26, 1958, the first commercial nuclear power plant in the United States, Shippingport Atomic Power Station, was opened by President Dwight D. Eisenhower as part of his Atoms for Peace program. From that very first day, the United States has been producing alleged nuclear waste from more than 100 nuclear power plants across the country. Today there are more than 83,000 tons of this alleged waste stored in dry cask at every site.
While the storage of these casks is perfectly safe as is, the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982, a federal law, requires the United States established a comprehensive national program for the safe, permanent disposal of highly radioactive wastes. There are two different types of waste; high-level waste from the weapons programs (mostly plutonium) and spent nuclear fuel (mostly uranium) from the commercial industry. To this day, the US Government has failed to execute this law. Therefore, alleged waste materials are at each nuclear plant site, even the decommissioned sites, and weapons-grade plutonium at DOE storage sites. What is needed is a reactor closed-loop fuel cycle that was never provided by the Nuclear Industry.
Several US companies are developing advanced reactors that will use the store nuclear fuel to implement a final disposition reactor closed-loop cycle of stored fuels without a new fuel waste stream. Three processes can accomplish a closed-loop fuel cycle; consolidate at a central facility, convert from solid fuel to a molten salt fuel, and provide the fuel stream for future advance reactors.
Re-store existing stored spent nuclear fuel (alleged waste):
In 2017, Congress amended the Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982. It authorizes the Department of Energy (DOE) to enter into new contracts (or modify existing contracts) with the licensee of an interim consolidated storage facility to take title to and store either high-level weapons-grade fuel or spent fuel (SNF) of domestic origin.
Holtec International and its partner, the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance (ELEA), have launched the licensing of an autonomous consolidated interim storage facility (CISF) in southeastern New Mexico on land owned by ELEA.
HI-STORE CISF satisfies the Federal Government’s long-standing obligation for disposition of used nuclear fuel (SNF) by providing a safe, secure, temporary, retrievable, and centralized storage of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste.
Re-cycle existing solid fuel rods in dry storage at HI-STORE CISF:
There are only two practical options for a permanent solution to SNF: 1) bury it deep in the bowels of the earth forever or 2) recycle it through advanced reactors designed to consume the remaining 100% of the energy still within the spent uranium fuel rods.
Recycling stored nuclear fuel at HI-STORE CISF, the solid fuel rods have to be converted to a molten salt fuel base that is compatible with the molten chloride salt fast reactor. The conversion could occur at HI-STORE CISF as a new facility or the National Labs in New Mexico.
The conversion of the solid fuel rods to liquid requires removing the zirconium cladding (valuable by-product), chopping up the pellets, and throwing them into a vat of molten chloride salt where the non-fuel materials (noble gases and noble metals) separate from the molten salt base of uranium, plutonium, and fission products. The molten salt fuel mixture is cooled and packaged back into the HI-STORE silos awaiting shipment as a Category 1 transport to commercial power plants.
Re-use newly recycled molten nuclear fuel in advanced molten salt reactors:
To use the recycled molten nuclear fuel, a fleet of advanced molten chloride salt fast reactors would have to exist. These reactors will consume 100% of all the energy in the molten salt fuel consisting of all the existing stored fuel sources; spent uranium, natural uranium, depleted uranium, reactor-grade plutonium, weapons-grade plutonium, thorium, and even the fission products. These fast reactors would be continuously fed molten salt fuel during non-stop operation for up to 60 years without ever having to shut down the reactor core. A new reactor core replacement would allow continuation for another 60 or more years using the same fuel, therefore no nuclear waste.
The HI-STORE, Consolidated Interim Storage Facility, is a component to fulfill the Government goal to aggregate the used nuclear fuel canisters presently scattered across the country at dozens of independent used fuel storage installations into one suitable location. This facility is needed to close the nuclear fuel cycle and provide the fuel for advanced molten chloride salt fast reactors and technically eliminate sociopolitical fear of alleged waste.