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Holtec Used-Fuel Cask Passes Aircraft Strike Test

Sept. 12, 2013—A used fuel transport cask developed by Holtec International recently passed a test showing it could survive an aircraft crash with no breach of its containment integrity.

Conducted at the U.S. Army’s Aberdeen Proving Grounds in Maryland, the Aug. 29 test was designed to simulate the impact of an aircraft crash on the HI-STAR 180 transport cask when used to store used nuclear fuel.

Test observers included Holtec client Axpo Power AG, the Swiss Federal Nuclear Safety Inspectorate and the Swiss Association for Technical Inspections. The test was required in order to obtain a certificate for the use of the cask for storage by Axpo Power, an electricity generation and transmission company.  

The missile used for the test, made of polyurethane and weighing 1,090 pounds, was designed and engineered by Holtec. It was fired at a scale model of the cask at more than 600 miles per hour, 17 percent higher than test requirements.

Holtec had previously conducted a qualification test at the Aberdeen facility to demonstrate that the missile would provide sufficient force and energy to meet the regulatory requirements, said Joy Russell, Holtec’s vice president for corporate business development.

Post-impact inspection of the cask revealed that it weathered the test with large performance margins, confirming Holtec predictions, Russell said. The measured post-impact helium leak rate from the cask’s containment was 1,000 times smaller than the established acceptance criteria. In addition, the bolts in the cask’s containment boundary remained elastic, and there was no breach of containment integrity.

The HI-STAR 180 has been designed as a dual-purpose cask―for storage and for transportation of used nuclear fuel. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has licensed the cask to transport high burn-up pressurized water reactor and mixed oxide fuels, and the design is in compliance with international regulations for transporting fissile material. The Swiss certification would be the first time the cask is licensed for storage.

Holtec will build the first batch of 14 HI-STAR 180 casks at its manufacturing facility in Pittsburgh, Pa.


Video of the crash test, courtesy of Holtec