Spent Fuel Storage Licensing

NRC approves spent fuel dry storage systems by evaluating each design for resistance to accident conditions such as floods, earthquakes, tornado missiles, and temperature extremes. The heat generated from the fuel assemblies stored in each cask is different for each design. The maximum heat generated by the fuel in the highest output temperature cask is approximately equal to 370 100-watt light bulbs. However, the temperature of the fuel in the casks is continuously decreasing over time.

Site-Specific and General Licenses

NRC authorizes storage of spent nuclear fuel at an independent spent fuel storage installation (ISFSI) under two licensing options: site-specific license and general license. See the map of Spent Fuel Storage Installations authorized to store dry spent fuel. Additionally, see the fact sheet on Dry Cask Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel.

Under a site-specific license, an applicant submits a license application to NRC and the NRC performs a technical review of all the safety aspects of the proposed ISFSI. If the application is approved, the NRC issues a license that is valid for up to 40 years. A spent fuel storage license contains technical requirements and operating conditions (fuel specifications, cask leak testing, surveillance, and other requirements) for the ISFSI and specifies what the licensee is authorized to store at the site. For more information, see the page on Licensing Process for ISFSIs.

A general license authorizes a nuclear power plant licensee to store spent fuel in NRC-approved casks at a site that is licensed to operate a power reactor under 10 CFR Part 50. Licensees are required to perform evaluations of their site to demonstrate that the site is adequate for storing spent fuel in dry casks. These evaluations must show that the cask Certificate of Compliance conditions and technical specifications can be met, including analysis of earthquake events and tornado missiles. The licensee must also review their security program, emergency plan, quality assurance program, training program and radiation protection program, and make any necessary changes to incorporate the ISFSI at its reactor site. For more information, see the page on General Licensing Considerations for ISFSIs.

An NRC-approved cask is one that has undergone a technical review of its safety aspects and been found to be adequate to store spent fuel at a site that has been evaluated by the licensee to meet all of the NRC's requirements in 10 CFR Part 72.

The NRC issues a Certificate of Compliance for a cask design to a cask vendor if the review of the design finds it technically adequate. The cask certificate is valid for up to 40 years from the date of issuance. See the Certification Process for Spent Fuel Storage Casks page for more information.

License Fees

Although 10 CFR Part 170 and 10 CFR Part 171 govern the fees charged for licensing services rendered and their collection, see in particular 10 CFR 170.20, 170.21 and 170.31 , and 10 CFR 171.15, 171.16, and 171.17(a) and (b) that are directly applicable to fees for spent fuel storage licensees. For general information about fees, see our License Fees page.

Public Involvement

To learn how stakeholders can participate in our licensing process, see Public Involvement in Licensing.


Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, May 03, 2021