The SNF loading into the TUK-19 cask through a transfer cask was first used under the RRRFR removal of the spent fuel from the VVR-S research reactor (IFIN-HH Institute, Magurele, Romania).
The TUK-19 cask allows two ways of loading:
- underwater loading with the TUK-19 cask at the bottom of the pool,
- air loading of an SFA-containing basket into the TUK-19 cask.
The first option requires a capacious pool and a powerful crane that are available only at large research centers. The second option envisions reliable equipment and skilled personnel that have practical experience in handling the TUK-19 casks. The foreign Russian-origin research reactors approaching their 50s and having obsolete load-lifting equipment mostly do not have experience in handling the TUK-19 casks and are not able to ensure proper safety, especially in case of an emergency.
When preparing the SNF for removal from the IFIN-HH Institute, the Romanian regulatory authority set stringent safety requirements for the SFA reloading operations. A decision was made to develop a technology of the SFA loading through a transfer cask with an automatic grapple.
The Sosny engineers prepared detailed design documentation and developed procedures for loading the SFAs into TUK-19, conducted personnel training in handling the transfer cask, and performed the equipment dry run. The successful implementation of the VVR-S SFA reloading operations in 2009 proved the proposed technology safe.
The procedure for the SFA loading from the cooling pool into a TUK-19 cask takes about 1 hour. The maximum individual radiation dose to the personnel after loading a TUK-19 cask does not exceed 0.05 mSv.
After use in Romania, the transfer cask was adapted for operations in the RA research reactor facility under the project for damaged SFA removal from the Vinca Institute, Serbia.
A similar transfer cask was developed and fabricated for the "top" loading of the spent fuel into the SKODA VPVR/M cask. It was used in the removal of the spent fuel assemblies from the DNRR research reactor (the Dalat Institute of Nuclear Research, Vietnam). The set of equipment also included a support plate and an adaptor to align the transfer cask with the SKODA VPVR/M basket cells.
Loading of the SKODA VPVR/M casks with liquid high-level spent nuclear fuel from the IIN-3M research reactor (Tashkent, Uzbekistan) required designing another transfer cask.
Loading of the MNSR core into the TUK-145/C-MNSR packaging used specially designed and manufactured transfer casks for the removal of the spent fuel from Ghana and Nigeria under the Chinese-Origin MNSR Conversion and Take-Back Programs.
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