Nuclear power plants produce relatively little waste compared to the power generated

The fuel used to produce power at a nuclear power plant like Fermi 2 takes up very little space — especially compared to other baseload power plants such as a coal plant.

Proper management of the fuel is essential to Fermi 2’s top priority: the health and safety of the public.

Short-term Storage

Much of Fermi 2’s used fuel is stored within our Reactor Building — a well-built, well-protected building with well-designed safety systems. It is stored, maintained and protected with safety as the top priority. The reactor building can withstand the impact of a wide-bodied commercial airliner, as demonstrated in a study by the Electric Power Research Institute. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission calls nuclear power plants “among the best-protected private sector facilities in the nation.”

Used fuel, which is a solid material, is stored in lined, concrete vault filled with water. The water is a natural barrier for radiation and also keeps the fuel cool.

The design of Fermi 2’s safety systems makes the storage of used fuel even safer. Fermi 2, just like the rest of the nuclear plants in the U.S., use reliable and diverse safety systems, which protect the public and our workers. We have back-up after back-up after back-up to ensure our fuel stays safe.

In addition to the structure of the plant and the safety systems, Fermi 2 is also protected by a security force that undergoes near-constant training. Since the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks, Fermi 2 invested millions of dollars to make the plant even safer by enhancing security.

After the fuel cools in the used fuel pool for at least seven years, the fuel can be moved into large concrete and steel storage containers. These containers are stored at the plant inside the protected area. Fermi 2 first moved fuel into these canisters in the summer of 2014.

Learn more about this project.

Long-term Storage

Industry experts agree the best way to store spent fuel is through the method of deep geological disposal, until an appropriate recycling program can be developed in the United States. 

By law, the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) has overall responsibility for the disposal of used nuclear fuel. However, the federal government has not established a viable program to manage used nuclear fuel. The U.S. nuclear industry supports the completion of the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s review of the DOE license application to build a repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada.