countries may need to store spent fuel for 100 years or more
until a repository is operating, and research is being conducted
to ensure the safety of this stored material for long time periods.
Spent fuel can be a polarizing issue, as evidenced by
the approach taken by different governments to manage it.
In South Australia (SA), the government established a Royal
Commission that was charged with studying South Australia’s
potential involvement in the nuclear fuel cycle. In May 2016,
the Commission released a report that stated the storage and
disposal of spent fuel in SA could provide substantial economic
benefits—a total revenue of more than A$258 billion versus
total costs of A$145 billion, equating to revenue of over A$5
billion a year for the first thirty years of operation. After extensive public consultation, a Citizen’s Jury of more than 300
randomly selected South Australians delivered a report to Premier Jay Weatherill on November 6. The jury was asked to answer the question, “Under what circumstances, if any, could
South Australia pursue the opportunity to store and dispose of
nuclear waste from other countries.” Two-thirds of the jury did
not wish to pursue the opportunity under any circumstances.
SA’s Premier presented the formal response to Parliament in
November 2016 that stated the only way to possibly move
forward with such a proposal is with bi-partisan support and
a state-wide referendum. A few weeks later, Premier Weatherill presented SA’s formal response to the State Parliament,
which stated that SA’s government would not pursue policy or
legislative changes, but would remain open to pursuing the option. Weatherill said the government believes that the only way
forward to continue the discussion is through a state-wide referendum and reviving bipartisanship support for the proposal.
In Taiwan, nuclear power in general is viewed negatively,
and spent fuel storage facilities are regarded as detrimental
to the community. State-owned Taiwan Power Company (
Taipower) is facing a severe shortage of spent fuel storage capacity. The Taipei government has repeatedly denied permits to
establish dry storage facilities, and as a result, Taipower had to
shut down the Kuosheng 1 reactor in November 2016 due to
lack of spent fuel storage capacity required to refuel the reactor. Taipower has proposed converting part of the fuel loading
pool into an area to store spent fuel, but the Atomic Energy
Commission has not approved the plan, which would take a
year to implement.
More than fifty countries have spent fuel in storage
awaiting reprocessing or disposal, with 80 percent of the
world’s inventory of spent fuel in storage in the U.S. and West-
ern Europe. About 10,000 metric tons (MT) of spent fuel is dis-
charged annually worldwide, with up to 3,000 MT of that to be
reprocessed, so annual spent fuel accumulation totals about
7,000 MT. UxC projects this total to increase, with as much as
15,000 MT discharged in 2030. The World Nuclear Association
(WNA) reports that about 240,000 MT of spent fuel is in stor-
age, mostly at reactor sites but some is stored at consolidated
storage facilities or at reprocessing facilities.
In a few countries, such as Sweden and Switzerland, consolidated storage facilities, both wet and dry, are operational.
Spain is planning a consolidated storage facility; Ukraine is
building two interim storage facilities; and two privately-run
consolidated storage facilities and one federally-operated facility are planned in the U.S.
Current policies of a few countries were highlighted as follows:
• Canada—Spent fuel is stored at reactor sites while Canada
pursues a deep geologic repository; about 90,000 spent
fuel bundles are produced each year; if all existing reactors
operate to the end of their licensed life, then about 4. 6 million bundles will need to be placed in the repository.
• China—Most spent fuel is stored in pools at the reactor
sites although Qinshan also has dry storage; reactors in
China will be discharging about 1,100 MT of spent fuel per
year by 2020 if it meets its target of 58 GWe of nuclear
power by then.
• Lithuania—Recently commissioned a dry storage facility
at the Ignalina Nuclear Power Plant, which is being decommissioned; the facility has the capacity for 190 casks; all
spent fuel should be in storage by the end of 2022.
• Ukraine—Policy is to store spent fuel for at least 50 years
prior to disposal; most spent fuel is stored at reactor sites
but Ukraine is building two interim storage facilities—one
for spent fuel from the VVER plants and one for the long-term storage of Chernobyl’s spent fuel; construction is underway; a dry storage facility has operated at Zaporozhe
In UxC’s Nuclear Power Outlook (NPO) and Requirements Model reports, the nuclear reactor requirements and
spent fuel discharges are estimated. As of mid-2016, UxC
estimated that the world’s nuclear power programs will discharge a total of nearly 575,000 MT of spent fuel through
2030. Less than 30 percent of that will be reprocessed and
the rest placed into storage. In UxC’s Nuclear Industry Value
Chain report, the company estimated the overall dry cask
storage market size to be about $12.4 billion in 2015 U.S. dol-