Canada and South Korea to cooperate on spent fuel research

October 20, 2021, 9:30AMRadwaste Solutions
In a virtual ceremony, CNL and KHNP signed a memorandum of understanding to cooperate on spent CANDU fuel research. (Image: CNL)

Canadian Nuclear Laboratories (CNL) and Korea Hydro and Nuclear Power (KHNP) intend to leverage data collected over decades on the dry storage of spent nuclear fuel to help inform decision-making on future spent fuel storage, transportation, and disposal activities.

Under a memorandum of understanding signed by the two organizations, announced on October 14, CNL and KHNP will engage in knowledge sharing and other joint activities to advance storage, transportation, and disposal practices for spent CANDU reactor fuel and to explore opportunities to collaborate on nuclear decommissioning and waste management initiatives.

He said it: “CNL and KHNP have a shared interest in advancing research related to the management and disposal of spent nuclear fuel, so this partnership will benefit both organizations,” said Kristan Schruder, CNL’s general manager and deputy vice president of environmental remediation management. “It is our hope that we can continue to build on this collaboration, exploring other areas where we have common interests, including decommissioning and waste management technologies and practices.”

The strengths: CNL has decades of experience in dry and wet storage of spent nuclear fuel. CNL (and previously Atomic Energy of Canada Limited) has operated multiple CANDU prototype and test reactors at the Chalk River, Douglas Point, Gentilly, and Whiteshell sites and has managed spent fuel and performed supporting research for CANDU and other commercial reactors. The Chalk River Laboratories campus is also home to shielded facilities and advanced materials research capabilities that are equipped to conduct post-irradiation examination on spent CANDU fuels.

Like Canada, South Korea is home to a number of nuclear power plants that account for a significant portion of the country’s clean energy supply, including three units that are Canada-designed CANDU pressurized heavy water reactors. A fourth CANDU unit in South Korea has been permanently shut down. To safely manage the spent fuel from these operations, KHNP has been preparing to initiate a research project that will focus on the long-term management of CANDU spent fuel in dry storage.

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