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Mission of the National Spent Nuclear Fuel Program

Our mission is to safely and efficiently manage Department of Energy (DOE)-owned spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and prepare it for disposal.

In completing this mission, the DOE Office of Environmental Management, while working with stakeholders, will protect the environment and the health and safety of workers and the public while fully complying with applicable federal, state, tribal, and local laws, orders, and regulations.

The scope of the SNF to which these requirements apply is defined by what constitutes DOE-owned SNF as well as the DOE programs and facilities needed to satisfactorily complete the mission.

DOE will manage material as SNF if it is irradiated fuel or targets containing uranium, plutonium, or thorium that is permanently withdrawn from a nuclear reactor or other neutron irradiation facility following irradiation, the constituent elements of which have not been separated by reprocessing. Such materials include essentially intact fuel and disassembled or damaged units and pieces, and the following:

  • Irradiated reactor fuel, production targets, slugs, and blankets presently in storage or that will be accepted for storage at DOE facilities
  • Debris, small pieces of fuel, and cut up assemblies that contain reportable quantities of uranium, thorium, or plutonium subject to evaluation of their waste classification.


A large number of different SNF types are stored within the DOE complex. Of the different types, several categories of DOE-owned SNF may be defined. These are:

  •  Materials production fuels

This category includes those nuclear fuels, drivers, and targets that historically have been processed by the DOE to recover valuable materials. Examples of SNF existing today include the N-reactor fuel stored at Hanford and the K/L/P reactor fuel and targets stored at Savannah River.

  • Naval nuclear propulsion fuel

Like the first category, Naval nuclear propulsion SNF has historically been processed to recover valuable materials. Following the phaseout of processing, however, some Naval SNF remains in storage at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL), and additional quantities will be placed into storage as fuel is withdrawn from vessels.

  • Research reactor fuel

DOE-sponsored nuclear research activities, both in the U.S. and overseas. SNF from research reactors is currently stored at a number of DOE sites (primarily Hanford, Idaho, and Savannah River) and at numerous (primarily active) university and government research reactor sites within the U.S. Additional research reactor SNF is being returned to the U.S. from foreign research reactors. Examples of research reactor SNF being stored within the DOE complex include the Experimental Breeder Reactor - II (EBR-II) fuel at Idaho, the Molten Salt Reactor Experiment (MSRE) fuel at Oak Ridge, and the High Flux Beam Reactor (HFBR) fuel at the Brookhaven National Laboratory.

  • Specialty fuels
     
    A small quantity of SNF is currently stored within the DOE complex from small, specialty type reactors. An example is the SNF from the space program (i.e., SNAP fuel).
  •  Commercial nuclear power reactor fuels
Some SNF from early (or demonstration) commercial power reactors (Shippingport, Peach Bottom, Fort St. Vrain, etc.) is stored within the DOE complex, primarily at Idaho and West Valley. Also included in this category is the Three-Mile Island Unit 2 (TMI) fuel debris that is stored at Idaho.
DOE facilities that come under the SNF program include those conditioning and storage facilities within which DOE-owned SNF currently resides and new facilities that are brought online to affect the mission of providing safe, interim storage.


DOE facilities that come under the SNF program include those conditioning and storage facilities within which DOE-owned SNF currently resides and new facilities that are brought online to affect the mission of providing safe, interim storage.

Examples of existing facilities at different sites include:

Hanford
105-K East and West (wet basins)

Idaho
Chemical Processing Plant (CPP)-603, CPP-666, Test Area North (TAN)-607 (wet basins) CPP-749, CPP-Irradiated Fuel Storage Facility (IFSF) (dry vaults)

Facilities related to SNF storage:
   CPP-603 dry storage (IFSF) for Ft St Vrain SNF
   CPP-666 basins for fuel storage
   CPP-749 dry storage wells
   NuHoms storage of TMI fuel

INL Facilities related to SNF processing:
   FDP Cell for packaging waste
   Remote Analytical Laboratory

Oak Ridge
High Flux Isotope Reactor (HFIR), Bulk Shielding Reactor (BSR), and Tower Shielding Facility (TSF) reactor storage (wet) Buildings 7503, 7823A, 7827, and 7329 (dry storage)

Savannah River
Receiving Basin for Offsite Fuels (RBOF), K/L/P reactor (wet basins)

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Department of energy

DOE Office of Nuclear Energy
DOE-Idaho Office
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