Used nuclear fuel is stored at the Fermi 2 Power Plant and is regulated and inspected by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Fermi 2 Power Plant's used fuel is first stored within our Reactor Building — a well-built, well-protected building capable of withstanding the impact of a wide-bodied commercial airliner. After several years of being stored safely inside the plant, the fuel is moved to dry fuel storage.
Used fuel at Fermi 2 Power Plant was moved into dry fuel storage canisters for the first time in 2014. This storage method, used at nuclear power plants since the mid-1980s, puts used fuel inside canisters composed of reinforced steel and concrete two-feet thick. The canisters are welded shut and backfilled with helium.
These canisters are extremely safe and reliable, providing both structural strength and radiation shielding. Canisters can withstand terrorist attacks and natural disasters such as earthquakes and tornadoes. For more information on how dry fuel storage canisters work, visit our Knowledge Center and read the article about nuclear energy sources.
By law, the U.S. Department of Energy is responsible for developing a disposal facility for the long-term management of used uranium fuel from America's nuclear power plants. The federal government, however, does not have a viable program for the management of used nuclear fuel.
Until the federal government puts in place a program to dispose of these materials, nearly all commercial used fuel is stored safely and securely at the reactor sites. This temporary storage is but one component of an integrated used fuel management system. Other facets include recycling, transportation and final geologic disposal.
The federal government defaulted on its legal obligation to take used nuclear fuel from commercial reactors beginning in 1998. Fermi 2 Power Plant employees, alongside others in the nuclear energy industry, are committed to working with Congress, the administration and state leaders on proposed legislation to create a sustainable, integrated program.