United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 99-29: Authorized Contents of Spent Fuel Casks

UNITED STATES
NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
OFFICE OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL SAFETY AND SAFEGUARDS
WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555

October 28, 1999

NRC INFORMATION NOTICE 99-29: AUTHORIZED CONTENTS OF SPENT FUEL CASKS

Addressees:

All power reactor licensees and spent fuel storage licensees and applicants.

Purpose:

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this information notice to alert addressees to pay close attention to the authorized contents for loading into spent fuel casks, especially when considering the loading of burnable poison rod assemblies (BPRAs) and thimble plugging devices (TPDs), with spent nuclear fuel, into dry casks for storage. The specified contents authorized for each approved spent fuel cask are listed in the certificate of compliance (CoC), for the casks or in the site-specific 10 CFR Part 72 license. It is expected that recipients will review this information for applicability to their facilities and consider actions, as appropriate, to avoid similar problems. However, suggestions contained in this information notice are not NRC requirements; therefore, no specific action nor written response is required.

Description of Circumstances:

Licenses issued under Part 72, "Licensing Requirements for the Independent Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste," authorize licensees to store spent nuclear fuel at independent spent fuel storage installations (ISFSIs). Site-specific licenses specify the types of materials authorized to be loaded into the casks stored at the ISFSIs. Similarly for general licenses, the cask's CoC states the authorized cask contents.

The NRC has identified two instances where licensees loaded storage casks with spent fuel containing BPRAs and TPDs, which were not authorized in either the site-specific license or the cask CoC. Therefore, the licensees violated the terms of their NRC license, which specifies the materials that are permitted for storage in dry casks. Although the safety significance associated with these specific instances is low, in each case the licensee was required to take immediate action to either correct the cask loading or to justify the continued safety of the as-loaded cask conditions. In the two known instances where BPRAs and/or TPDs were loaded in dry casks, without NRC authorization, five violations were identified.

Discussion:

When submitting a cask design application or an application for a site-specific ISFSI license, the applicant or licensee must state and evaluate all materials to be stored in the proposed design. The NRC reviews and approves the specific contents for each spent fuel storage site-specific license or cask CoC and explicitly specifies the materials that are authorized for storage.

Once NRC approval has been granted for the site-specific license or cask CoC, a licensee may make changes in the facility as described in the safety analysis report, make changes in the procedures described in the safety analysis report, or conduct tests or experiments not described in the safety analysis report, without NRC approval, provided the proposed change, test, or experiment is analyzed in accordance with 10 CFR 72.48, "Changes, Tests, and Experiments." However, changes made under 10 CFR 72.48 are precluded if the proposed change, test, or experiment involves a change to the license or the license conditions incorporated into the license. To store materials that are not explicitly permitted for storage in their site-specific license, or the applicable cask CoC, the licensee must seek a license or CoC amendment in accordance with the regulations.

This information notice requires no specific action nor written response. If you have any questions about the information in this notice, please contact one of the technical contacts listed below or the appropriate Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards Project Manager.

  [Signed by]
E. William Brach, Director
Spent Fuel Project Office
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
Technical Contacts: Timothy J. Kobetz, NMSS
(301) 415-8538
E-mail: tjk1@nrc.gov
James J. Pearson, NMSS
(301) 415-1985
E-mail: jjp@nrc.gov
Attachments: 1. List of Recently Issued NMSS Information Notices
2. List of Recently Issued NRC Information

(NUDOCS Accession Number 9910220082)
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