Holtec President says HI-STORM dry storage casks can last 300 years

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Holtec HI-STORM 100

Holtec International President Kris Singh told the Vermont Nuclear Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel on Friday that the HI-STORM (Holtec International Storage Module) spent nuclear fuel storage casks constructed by his company can withstand cold weather and even being flooded.

Singh asserted that the HI-STORM casks were the best and safest in the world and claimed that each cask would last 300 years — even though the longest a HI-STORM cask has been used in the field is only 15 years.

Each cask is constructed out of stainless steel and high-density concrete.  One of the features of the casks is that they don’t have welds, which are prone to leaking.  They are designed to withstand high-impact crashes, high temperatures and bullets.

A dry storage cask prepared for loading
A dry storage cask prepared for loading
The cask is placed in the spent fuel pool to load spent fuel assemblies.
The cask is placed in the spent fuel pool to load spent fuel assemblies.
After the spent fuel assemblies are loaded the top of the cask is welded shut
After the spent fuel assemblies are loaded the top of the cask is welded shut
After they are sealed the canisters are placed inside of the overpack.
After they are sealed the canisters are placed inside of the overpack.
The loaded cask is transported to the above-ground storage pad.
The loaded cask is transported to the above-ground storage pad.
A view of loaded casks
A view of loaded casks
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  1. We’ll be lucky if the thin (1/2″ thick) steel canisters last more than 20 years. These canisters are subject to corrosion and cracking from environmental and other factors. The Koeberg nuclear plant in South Africa had a similarly made component fail in 17 years. This was a tank made out of similar steel and manufactured (e.g., welded) in a similar fashion to steel spent fuel canisters. The crack was over 1/2″ (0.62″) — deeper than the thickness of Holtec’s steel canisters.

    The NRC states than once a crack starts, it can go through-wall in 16 years. Since none of the loaded U.S. canisters have been inspected for cracks (due to limitations in inspection technology), we don’t know how many of the almost 2000 installed thin canisters are cracking. And Dr. Singh says there is no practical way to repair cracks, in the fact of millions of curies of radiation that would be released from even a microscopic crack.

    Also, the thick concrete overpack shown in the photo has air vents, which are required so the thin canisters don’t overheat from the extremely hot spent fuel assemblies stored in the thin canisters.

    Any system is only as strong as it’s weakest link. The weak link in the thin steel canister. And there is no way to transfer fuel from one failed canister to another once the spent fuel pools are destroyed, which is the plan at most decommissioning sites.

    And there is no seismic rating for a canister with cracks.

    Learn more and see backup data to these facts, including a video of Dr. Singh, at SanOnofreSafety.org

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