Spent fuel storage and reactor vendor Holtec has started to prepare to build a $260 million factory, reactor test loop and engineering building in Camden, New Jersey, across the river from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania for its SMR-160 reactor and fuel storage technology.

Holtec said it had signed a 50-year lease on the site. The factory, expected to be completed in 2017 and commissioned in mid-2018 would initially employ 400 craft workers, rising to as many as 2000 by 2023.

The company’s headquarters are based nearby in Marlton, New Jersey, and also operates factories in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania and Orrville, Ohio.

The company’s R&D team recently announced that faced with a breach in a coolant line, break in a main steam line or sudden station blackout, the 160MWe pressurized water reactor SMR-160 would switch to a safe shutdown and cooling state for an indefinite period. It relies on the passive physical processes of gravity and conduction to remove heat from the fuel elements into the atmosphere.

After Holtec’s bid lost the second round of US government R&D funding for small modular reactor development, Holtec president Kris Singh promised that the company would continue to develop the reactor on its own. B&W mPower America Partnership and NuScale Power Partnership have each won a part of a six-year $275 milion cost-share agreement with the US Department of Energy’s SMR Licensing Technical Support programme.

In unrelated news, after a nine-year delay, Holtec’s contract to build an interim spent fuel¬†repository in Ukraine is back on. In late June, Singh and NAEK Energoatom Yuriy Nedashkovskiy signed an amendment to the construction contract originally signed in 2005. Delays in approval of the law by Parliament and land allocation by the Ukrainian cabinet of ministers were recently resolved. The repository is now planned for two plots of land with a total area of 45 hectares in the Chernobyl exclusion zone.

The construction contract will also be revised, from a tender-based model to a cost-plus model, changes to financing and scope, with Energoatom taking on part of the work itself.

The initial repository, scheduled for start-up in 2017, would take up to 3620 spent fuel assemblies from Khmelnitsky, Rivne and South Ukraine. The full repository would have a capacity of 12,010 VVER-1000 assemblies and 4520 VVER-440 assemblies.

The storage facility will employ Holtec’s HI-STORM 190 vertical ventilated systems with double-wall multi-purpose canisters containing METAMIC-HT fuel baskets (Ukraine is among the few countries that require a double-walled canister for fuel confinement; most, including the US, permit single wall). The HI-STAR 190 transport casks, rated at 38 KW heat load, will be used to transport the spent fuel to the Central Facility from the three nuclear plant sites.

Picture: cutaway view of SMR-160 integral reactor pressure vessel