Where will the used nuclear fuel go after it leaves the reactor?
Fundamentally, the used nuclear fuel will be regulated by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, not the Department of Energy. In the spent fuel pool, there will be over 1,400 accessible storage locations which will accommodate simultaneous storage of new fuel assemblies, spent fuel assemblies, plus the total number of assemblies in 12 NuScale Power Modules. This spacing is expected to accommodate more than 10 years’ worth of spent fuel storage space. The site will also have onsite dry cask spent fuel storage sufficient to accommodate the fuel generated by 60 years of plant operation. UAMPS will ultimately send its spent fuel to either a national repository for permanent disposition, or to a national used fuel recycling center, or to an interim fuel storage center.
Note that the disposal options may differ from the high-level waste currently at the DOE’s INL site. The existing DOE high-level waste is a mix of different types of materials, few of which are candidates for eventual recycle. Those wastes are not necessarily destined for the same national repository as commercial used fuel, whether or not that fuel is recycled to first recover the 95% of material that remains useful. Unlike DOE wastes, the NRC requires a fee be paid by utilities such as UAMPS as used commercial nuclear fuel is produced. By law, that fee goes into an account that can only be used for eventual permanent disposal of the fuel. The Secretary of the DOE reported in 2013 on the adequacy of the current Nuclear Waste Fund Fee under a variety of economic scenarios, and found that "there is currently no compelling evidence that either insufficient or excess revenues are being collected to ensure recovery costs. The DOE secretary reported in 2013 on the adequacy assessment of nuclear waste.