By: Rebecca Klopf
BYRON (WREX) - Exelon leaders say government indecision forced them to come up with a back-up plan for Byron's nuclear waste. This is only a temporary solution until the federal government figures out where all used nuclear material should go.
"Right now it appears we are at an in-pass in this country to come up with a long term solution. It is up to the federal government per federal regulation to accept nuclear waste we generate from this and any other facilities," says Brad Adams, Exelon Plant Manager.
Exelon says the industry's original plan had been to move nuclear waste from each company's 'spent fuel pools' to a national repository. It was supposed to be at Yucca Mountain in Nevada. That plan has been stopped and in the meantime, nuclear waste is piling up in company's pools.
"We're actually nearing capacity in the pool and we actually have two refuel outages in 2011," says Adams. "So projecting forward if we did not complete this campaign we would have run out of capacity by next year.
That's why Exelon had dry casks built. The steel re-inforced concrete cylinders have walls up to 26 inches thick and have been tested to survive tornadic winds and extreme heat or fire.
"If you look at overall design of that facility and the technology surrounding it we could safely store fuel out there for 100 years," says Adams.
In just one of the dry casks there is about a year's worth of nuclear waste, at the Byron plant they can store 96 of them. By the middle of next month, Exelon wants to fill up 6 casks. That will leave enough room in the pool for the nuclear waste it will generate when it refuels the plant next year.
"The company and I firmly believe that the federal government needs to come up with a long term solution to the issue. It's their responsibility, it needs to happen," says Adams
The plant plans to move more of its nuclear waste into dry cask storage again in 2012.