Another spent fuel hunt: this time, Humboldt

4 August 2004

Records at Pacific Gas and Electric Company's (PG&E's) shutdown Humboldt Bay plant near Eureka in northern California conflict over the location of three small segments of fuel.

PG&E has been conducting a meticulous survey of the plant's records in preparation for decommissioning, the first hints of a discrepancy surfacing on 23 June. Some records say that a fuel rod was separated from an assembly and three 45cm sections cut from it. The segments were intended to be sent to the Battelle Laboratory in Columbus, Ohio for analysis but the shipment was never made and the segments were apparently stored in the spent fuel pool – the exact location unrecorded. Other records say that the entire fuel assembly was shipped to West Valley for reprocessing, making no mention of the removal of one fuel rod.

Staff are currently searching the 4500m3 pool which contains 390 fuel assemblies, and believe they have located the remains of the removed fuel rod. The three segments removed from it, however, remain unfound.

Recently, staff at Vermont Yankee concluded a 9000 hour search of their spent fuel pool, locating two fragments of fuel that were removed from their assembly because of defective cladding. The pieces were eventually located in a custom built container within the pool, but Vermont Yankee had no record of receipt of the vessel.

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