stored in plants around the country, all pre-examination naval spent nuclear fuel is shipped to one place, INEEL, for examination and temporary storage pending ultimate disposition…” (U.S. Navy 1996).
For over 40 years, “naval spent fuel has been shipped by rail in shielded shipping containers from naval shipyards and prototypes to the Expended Core Facility on the Naval Reactors Facility in Idaho where it is removed from the shipping containers and placed into water pools…” (DOE 1995). The pools are at the ICPP. “A total of approximately 65 metric tons (heavy metal) of naval spent nuclear fuel will exist by the year 2035.” In 1996, DOE and the Navy decided to put the spent fuel at INEEL into dry storage using dual purpose canisters, which would serve both as storage containers at INEEL and as transport containers to a future repository (DOE 1996a). Until being shipped for disposal, these canisters are to be stored at the Naval Reactors Facility at INEEL (DOE 1997b).
“Naval nuclear fuel is designed to meet the stringent operational requirements for naval nuclear propulsion reactors…. Current designs are capable of more than 20 years of successful operation without refueling…. Measurements of the corrosion rates for naval fuel designs have shown that post-examination naval spent nuclear fuel can be safely stored wet or dry for periods much longer than…40 years…” (U.S. Navy 1996, pp. 2–3).
The Navy’s program for decommissioned nuclear ships “involves defueling the reactor, inactivating the ship, removing the reactor compartment for land disposal, recycling the remainder of the ship to the maximum extent practical and disposing of the remaining non-recyclable materials.” This takes place at the Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Washington State. In 1984, the “Navy decided to dispose of the reactor compartments at the Department of Energy’s Hanford site. The first reactor compartment was shipped…to the Hanford site for disposal in 1986…. As of April 1999, the Navy has successfully shipped 79 reactor compartments to Hanford…” (U.S. Navy 1999). “With the ship in drydock…the fuel is removed into a shielded transfer container [and then] placed into specially-designed shipping containers” (p.3). The defueling process “removes over 99% of the radioactivity, and some small amount remains in the reactor plant after the nuclear fuel is removed [that] was created by neutron irradiation of the iron and alloying elements in the metal components during operation of the plant” (p.6). The ICPP reprocessed 44 MTHM of U.S. government