United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

MELCOR Modeling of Accident Scenarios at a Facility for Aqueous Reprocessing of Spent Nuclear Fuel (NUREG/CR-7266)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: September 2019
Date Published: January 2020

Prepared by:
K.C. Wagner and D. L. Y. Louie

Severe Accident Analysis Department
Sandia National Laboratories
P.O. Box 5800 MS-0848
Albuquerque, NM 87185-0748

Mark Fuhrmann, NRC Project Manager

Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington DC 20555-0001

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Abstract

The work presented in this report applies the MELCOR code to evaluate potential accidents in non-reactor nuclear facilities, focusing on Design Basis Accidents. Ten accident scenarios were modeled using NRC’s best–estimate severe accident analysis code, MELCOR 2.2. The accident scenarios simulated a range of explosions and/or fires related to a nuclear fuel reprocessing facility. The objective was to evaluate the radionuclide source term to the environment following initiating explosion and/or fire events. The simulations were performed using a MELCOR model of the Barnwell Nuclear Fuel Plant, which was decommissioned before beginning reprocessing operations. Five of the accident scenarios were based on the Class 5 Design Basis Accidents from the Final Safety Analysis Report. Three of the remaining accident scenarios include sensitivity studies on smaller solvent fires. The final two accidents included an induced fire from an initial explosion. The radionuclide inventory was developed from ORIGEN calculations of spent PWR fuel with an initial enrichment of 4.5% U–235 by weight. The fuel aged for five years after a final 500–day irradiation cycle. The burn-up was conservatively increased to 60 GWd/MTU to bound current US operations. The results are characterized in terms of activity release to the environment and the building decontamination factor, which is related to the leak path factor used in Department of Energy safety analyses. The MELCOR 2.2 results consider adverse consequences to the filters, ventilation system, and structures as a result of the explosions and fires. The calculations also include best–estimate models for aerosol transport, agglomeration, and deposition. The new calculations illustrate best–estimate approaches for predicting the source term from a reprocessing facility accident.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Friday, January 31, 2020