DOE Contracts for Spent Fuel Canister Designs

The U.S. Department of Energy has awarded Areva Federal Services and NAC International contracts for the design, licensing, and demonstration of the Transportation, Aging, and Disposal (TAD) canister system.

The two contracts have a total value of up to $13.8 million if all options are exercised by DOE and are each for a term of up to five years. The TAD canister will be the primary means for packaging spent nuclear fuel for transportation to and disposal in the proposed repository at Yucca Mountain, about 90 miles northwest of Las Vegas, Nev.

"We believe that these advanced canisters will provide for the safe, long-term storage of our nation's spent nuclear fuel," said Edward Sproat, director of the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. "This is a significant step in the department's efforts to license and construct the repository at Yucca Mountain."

The department estimates that up to 90 percent of the spent nuclear fuel received at Yucca Mountain will arrive in TAD canisters that will be permanently sealed at utility sites. Any spent nuclear fuel not transported in TADs will be placed in the canisters upon arrival at Yucca Mountain. The TAD canister, which could be commercially available as early as 2013, will meet all Nuclear Regulatory Commission requirements for storage and transportation of spent nuclear fuel, as well as DOE's technical requirements for long-term waste isolation during disposal.

In June 2007, DOE released the final performance requirements for the TAD canister. The TAD-based approach, originally announced in October 2005, eliminates the need for the construction of several multi-million square feet, multi-billion dollar facilities for handling spent fuel at the Yucca Mountain repository.

Yucca Mountain was approved by Congress and the President as the site for the nation's first permanent spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste geologic repository in 2002. The department's license application for authorization to construct the repository, which is scheduled to be submitted to the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission no later than June 30, will incorporate the TAD approach.

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