KEWAUNEE, Wis (WSAU) One of Wisconsin’s two nuclear power plants has freed up some critical space to cool spent fuel rods in its main reactor building. The Kewaunee plant recently moved a number of uranium rods from a cooling pool in the reactor to a hardened concrete cask outside. Each cask holds over 5,000 rods – which spend years being cooled because of their intense heat.
In the wake of the Japan nuclear accident, the federal government has told U-S plants how to improve their safety – and one concern was to keep the water flowing in the cooling pools in the event of an emergency. Radiation can be released if the water levels are not high enough. But Mark Kanz of the Kewaukee plant said the moving of the spent fuel rods was not tied to the federal report or the Japan disaster. He said the pool was getting close to its capacity – and the plant might not have been able to store all the fuel rods that needed to be cooled by 2013, had last week’s move not been made.
Nuclear plants must store their spent fuel at their sites, now that the federal government has given up trying to build a nuclear waste repository at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. The Kewaunee plant is owned by Dominion Resources, which announced in late April it would sell the facility.