FIGURE 3.2 Schematic section through a PWR reactor plant. The spent fuel pool is located in the fuel-handling building next to the domed reactor containment building at or slightly below ground level, SOURCE: Modified from Duderstadt and Hamilton (1976, Figure 3–4).

vessels closer to ground level (grade) and also have spent fuel pools that are close to grade (FIGURE 3.2). The design shown in this figure is typical of the fuel pool arrangement for PWRs, Nuclear power plant sites that contain two reactors are usually arranged in a mirror-image fashion, with the two spent fuel pools (or a shared pool) located in a common area adjoining both reactor buildings. For single-plant or two-plant arrangements, the building covering the spent fuel pool and crane structures is typically an ordinary steel industrial building. There are 69 PWRs currently in operation in the United States; 6 PWRs have been decommissioned but continue to have active spent fuel pool storage.

In contrast, in boiling water reactor designs, the reactor vessel is at a higher elevation, and the BWR vessels are somewhat taller than PWR vessels,7 Consequently, BWRs have more elevated spent fuel pools, generally well above grade. FIGURE 3.1 shows the general design for the 22 BWR Mark I plants operating in the United States.

Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff is conducting a survey of the plants to obtain a better understanding of the variations in design of spent fuel pools across the nation. The following information was provided to the committee from that survey:


The higher elevation accommodates control mechanisms that sit under the reactor, and the extra height accommodates steam separation and drying equipment at the top of the vessel. The fuel is about the same length as PWR fuel.

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