|By John Busby|
|21 May 2009|
British Energy (BE) has issued a report “Managing spent fuel at
Sizewell B” which was prepared for issue at a public exhibition to
“explain the options that British Energy are considering for managing
spent fuel at Sizewell B nuclear power station from 2015 onwards”.
John Busby touches on some of the unresolved issues.
It appears that the existing spent fuel pond in which used fuel is stored will reach its capacity by 2015. The station was commissioned in 1995 and is expected to remain operational until 2035 after 40 years of generation. The pool was sized in accordance with a packing density specified by the builders, Westinghouse, but at the exhibition held on 6 May 2009, BE’s staff explained that the density allowed was halved by the UK inspectors, in effect halving the life of the pond.
BE is consulting the public on whether to build a second pool and also whether subsequently spent fuel should be transferred to dry casks or to a ventilated vault. See  The option to send the spent fuel elements in special rail containers to Sellafield for processing, has not been taken and since its inception in 1995 all the spent fuel has remained in the pool.
The solution in the US, where processing has until recently been
disallowed, is to progressively transfer the spent fuel elements into
dry casks, which are stored vertically in open “cemeteries” or
horizontally in “mausoleums” pending an ultimate transfer to an
underground repository. See “Rip van Winkel wakes” 
In “Geriatric design assessment"  it was recommended that for the new build reactors, claimed to operate for 60 years, that a reserve pond be kept empty in the event that the first pond leaked.
So it may be that BE has taken this advice and will install a second pond for its security or that the present pond has already leaked. Otherwise the immediate recourse to dry casks would suffice to enable the reactor to continue beyond 2015.
 "Rip van Winkel wakes."
 “Geriatric design assessment.”
 “Geriatric emaciation.”