United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Criticality Analysis of Assembly Misload in a PWR Burnup Credit Cask (NUREG/CR-6955)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: May 2004
Date Published: January 2008

Prepared by:
J.C. Wagner

Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Managed by UT-Batelle, LLC
P.O. Box 2008
Oak Ridge, TN 37831-6170

D. Barto, NRC Project Manager

NRC Job Code B0009

Prepared for:
Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
U. S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

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Abstract

The Interim Staff Guidance on burnup credit (ISG-8) for spent fuel in storage and transportation casks, issued by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s Spent Fuel Project Office, recommends a burnup measurement for each assembly to confirm the reactor record and compliance with the assembly burnup value used for loading acceptance. This recommendation is intended to prevent unauthorized loading (misloading) of assemblies due to inaccuracies in reactor burnup records and/or improper assembly identification, thereby ensuring that the appropriate subcritical margin is maintained. This report presents a computational criticality safety analysis of the consequences of misloading fuel assemblies in a high-capacity cask that relies on burnup credit for criticality safety. The purpose of this report is to provide a quantitative understanding of the effects of fuel misloading events on safety margins. A wide variety of fuel-misloading configurations are investigated and results are provided for informational purposes. This report does not address the likelihood of occurrence for any of the misload configurations considered. For representative, qualified burnup-enrichment combinations, with and without fission products included, misloading two assemblies that are underburned by 75% results in an increase in keff of 0.025−0.045, while misloading four assemblies that are underburned by 50% also results in an increase in keff of 0.025−0.045. For the cask and conditions considered, a reduction in burnup of 20% in all assemblies results in an increase in keff of less than 0.035. Misloading a single fresh assembly with 3, 4, or 5 wt% 235U enrichment results in an increase in keff of ~0.02, 0.04, or 0.06, respectively. The report concludes with a summary of these and other important findings, as well as a discussion of relevant issues that should be considered when assessing the appropriate role of burnup measurements.

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