Holtec to step up its production of spent fuel casks

July 13, 2021, 3:00PMRadwaste Solutions

A Holtec HI-STAR 150 cask being placed into storage at Cofrentes in Spain on June 23. (Photo: Holtec).

Holtec International is increasing the production of its HI-STAR casks for storing and transporting spent nuclear fuel following recent regulatory approvals and new orders in Europe. Earlier this month the company was awarded a contract by Spain’s waste management organization Enresa for 10 HI-STAR 150 casks, and Holtec is currently in the advanced stages of production of two HI-STAR 180D casks destined for the Doel nuclear power plant in Belgium, with additional orders pending.

The casks are being produced at Holtec’s manufacturing facilities in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Ohio.

Spain: Enresa initially awarded Holtec a contract in 2017 for the design, engineering, licensing, and manufacturing of five HI-STAR 150 casks for the Cofrentes nuclear power plant near Valencia. The Spanish Nuclear Safety Council signed off on the HI-STAR 150 design for storage in April of this year, and on May 23, Spain’s Ministry of Ecological Transition and the Demographic Challenge granted a license for the cask, which is designed to store up to 52 boiling water reactor spent fuel assemblies, including damaged fuel assemblies.

The first HI-STAR 150 was loaded at the Cofrentes plant and placed into the storage facility on June 23. This was Holtec’s first dual-purpose metal cask loaded in Europe.

Belgium: On June 18, after a lengthy review process, Belgium’s Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) approved Holtec’s HI-STAR 180D for transportation, making it Holtec’s first dual-purpose storage and transportation cask (with no internal canister) licensed for transport in Europe. The HI-STAR 180D is the sister cask to Holtec’s HI-STAR 180 cask, which was first approved for transportation in 2009 by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.

According to Holtec, the first HI-STAR 180D is expected to be loaded at Doel next year after authorization from Bel-V, the subsidiary of FANC with regulatory oversight for storage. Bel-V has already completed its review of the cask, Holtec said.

Elsewhere: In addition to the five HI-STAR 150 casks delivered to Spain, Holtec said that it delivered 14 HI-STAR 100 casks to South Africa and three HI-STAR 190 casks to Ukraine, with seven HI-STAR 100MB casks now destined for China.

The company’s shop floor currently has more than 10 HI-STAR casks in production, not including the Enresa order. The additional deliveries include clients in Sweden and Switzerland.

Holtec said that during the pandemic it was able to continue to operate its manufacturing centers at partial capacity, as they were designated as a critical business in support of the energy sector. The company added that it was able to leverage several innovations in welding to increase productivity, including the use of hybrid laser welding. Developed by Holtec under a Department of Energy–funded program, the welding technology will begin commercial operation this year for copper-to-copper welding of HI-STAR 80 casks that are on order by Sweden.

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