Changing the way we store spent fuel
We are considering changing the way in which we will store spent fuel. The change is from the originally proposed “wet” design, where spent fuel is stored in large pools, to one which uses “dry” storage - where spent fuel is stored in very strong cannisters inside a building.
In the 12 years since our original review of storage options, a new dry store at Sizewell B in Suffolk has given us UK operational experience of using this method. It provides benefits in terms of easier handling and accessibility and the advantage of passive cooling and shielding, requiring no operator intervention.
The dry store technology has been used worldwide since the 1970s. Tests on spent fuel cannisters after decades in dry storage has confirmed that the system continues to provide a very safe and secure storage option. The concrete and steel cannisters are very robust and are designed to withstand any external hazard. They can be approached without any protective clothing – as they completely shield the environment from the radiation of the spent fuel.
Use of the technology is overseen by our independent regulators the Environment Agency and the Office for Nuclear Regulation.