Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel

What We Regulate

There are two acceptable storage methods for spent fuel after it is removed from the reactor core:

  • Spent Fuel Pools - Currently, most spent nuclear fuel is safely stored in specially designed pools at individual reactor sites around the country.
  • Dry Cask Storage – Licensees may also store spent nuclear fuel in dry cask storage systems at independent spent fuel storage facilities (ISFSIs) at the following sites:
    • At Reactor – Licensees may use dry storage systems when approaching their pool capacity limit.
    • Away-From-Reactor – Licensees may use dry storage systems at one of the following locations:
      • Decommissioned Reactor Sites – After terminating reactor operations and removing structures used in reactor operations, the licensee stores spent fuel on-site pending off-site transport to either a site-specific ISFSI that is authorized to receive the spent fuel, or a permanent geologic repository licensed for disposal.
      • Consolidated Interim Storage Facility (CISF) – Dry cask storage at an away-from-reactor site pending disposal at a permanent disposal facility

The NRC believes spent fuel pools and dry casks both provide adequate protection of the public health and safety and the environment. Therefore there is no pressing safety or security reason to mandate earlier transfer of fuel from pool to cask.

How We Regulate

The NRC regulates spent fuel through a combination of regulatory requirements, licensing; safety and security oversight, including inspection, assessment of performance; and enforcement; operational experience evaluation; and regulatory support activities. For general information, see the How We Regulate page. For details, see the following:

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Monday, May 03, 2021