United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
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Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel

What We Regulate

There are two acceptable storage methods for spent fuel after it is removed from the reactor core:

  • Spent Fuel Pools - Currently, most spent nuclear fuel is safely stored in specially designed pools at individual reactor sites around the country.
  • Dry Cask Storage – Licensees may also store spent nuclear fuel in dry cask storage systems at independent spent fuel storage facilities (ISFSIs) at the following sites:
    • At Reactor – Licensees may use dry storage systems when approaching their pool capacity limit.
    • Away-From-Reactor – Licensees may use dry storage systems at one of the following locations:
      • Decommissioned Reactor Sites – After terminating reactor operations and removing structures used in reactor operations, the licensee stores spent fuel on-site pending off-site transport to either a site-specific ISFSI that is authorized to receive the spent fuel, or a permanent geologic repository licensed for disposal.
      • Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) – Dry cask storage at an away-from-reactor site pending disposal at a permanent disposal facility

For additional information, see our Spent Fuel Storage in Pools and Dry Casks, Key Points and Questions & Answers page.

How We Regulate

The NRC regulates spent fuel through a combination of regulatory requirements, licensing; safety and security oversight, including inspection, assessment of performance; and enforcement; operational experience evaluation; and regulatory support activities. For general information, see the How We Regulate page. For details, see the following:

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, September 27, 2018