Holtec International has launched the design and licensing of an autonomous consolidated interim storage facility on ELEA, LLC’s property in southeastern New Mexico. The Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, LLC [ELEA] is a long-standing consortium of the Cities of Carlsbad & Hobbs and the Counties of Eddy & Lea, formed under New Mexico’s Local Economic Development Act (LEDA) in 2006. ELEA and Holtec have established an agreement for hosting a Consolidated Interim Story Facility (CIS) within its territory. This facility will be called HI-STORE CIS.  To learn more about the Eddy-Lea Energy Alliance, visit www.eddyleaenergyalliance.com. The license application for the HI-STORE CIS facility was submitted to the USNRC on March 31, 2017.

The HI-STORE CIS will be sited on 1,000 acres of unused land approximately halfway between the cities of Carlsbad and Hobbs, N.M. The geologically stable, dry, elevated land is located 35 miles from nearest human habitat and features a well-developed transportation infrastructure, including rail access. The land was studied extensively for its environmental characteristics during the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) process.

Pictorial view of the proposed the HI-STORE CIS Facility under NRC review

Holtec will license the facility with the USNRC and build and operate the HI-STORE CIS facility with the anticipated support of the US Department of Energy. The HI-STORE CIS  employs the HI-STORM UMAX technology (NRC Docket No. 72-1040), which stores the loaded canisters in a subterranean configuration. HI-STORM UMAX is widely considered by industry experts to be the last word on public safety and security.

HI-STORE CIS seeks to fulfill America’s proclaimed goal to aggregate the used nuclear fuel canisters presently scattered across the country at dozens of independent spent fuel storage installations (ISFSIs) into one or two suitable locations that have overwhelming endorsement of their respective host communities. The proposed HI-STORE CIS facility aims to fulfill the principal mission of ELEA which is focused on boosting the economic vitality of its placid corner of southern New Mexico (see map below). The initial storage capacity of HI-STORE CIS is 10,000 storage canisters which translates to approximately 120,000 metric-tons of used uranium fuel.

Instead of the irreversible act of disposing the used fuel into a repository, HI-STORE CIS will provide an interim staging facility where the fuel can be kept in an inert environment in an absolute safe and secure configuration to protect the health and safety of the facility’s staff and the local populace. The decision on the approach to deal with the used fuel stored at HI-STORE over the long term can be made at a later date after the needed technologies to deal with them have reached sufficient maturity.

HI-STORE CIS is intended to be a universal storage facility, meaning it will store any US-origin commercial nuclear fuel currently packaged in dry storage canisters, or stored in the nation’s fuel pools. Specifically, the HI-STORE CIS will accept a loaded Canister of any provenance: whether they are horizontally stored canisters in Areva’s NUHOMS or vertical canisters in NAC’s (a subsidiary of Hitachi Zosen) or the legacy canisters supplied by now- extinct suppliers –  they all will be storable in HI-STORE CIS. No repackaging of fuel will be required for storing at HI-STORE CIS.