Managing Used Nuclear Fuel

Callaway workers examining materials.  
Every industry must manage its waste. There are two types of nuclear waste - high-level and low-level. High-level waste is the used fuel, which has been removed from the reactor during refueling. It is a solid, inert material that cannot ignite or explode.

The amount of high-level waste produced by Callaway Energy Center is very small, compared to the enormous amount of energy the plant generates. Since Callaway Energy Center began operating in 1984, all of its used fuel has initially been safely stored on site in the used fuel pool, which is a stainless steel-lined water pool located inside the fuel building. The used fuel is stored underwater because water is an effective shield against radiation. Used fuel loses about 90% of its radioactivity in the first year of storage.

Every nuclear plant in the U.S. currently stores its own used fuel. In 2015, Callaway completed construction of its new dry cask storage facility. This facility is a state of the art underground storage system built to hold 1776 used fuel assemblies. The underground and robust concrete design provides for additional radiation shielding and security as compared to an above ground design. Callaway completed its first loading campaign of six canisters, or 222 fuel assemblies, in the fall of 2015.

Nuclear plants also must dispose of low-level radioactive waste, which includes disposable items that have become contaminated in working with radioactive material. Examples include metal components, filters, resins, protective clothing and tools. At Callaway Energy Center, this low-level waste is either safely stored on site or shipped by truck to a licensed disposal facility.

Callaway Energy Center Dry Cask Fact Sheet

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