Federal regulators announced Thursday that the Calvert Cliffs nuclear power plant may continue to keep its spent fuel at the southern Maryland plant for another 40 years.
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission renewed permission for the plant's owner, Exelon Generation, to provide long-term storage on-site for its used fuel roads in concrete and steel casks.
After powering a reactor for several years, highly radioactive spent fuel rods are initially kept submerged in a water-filled pool, then transferred to "dry casks" outside with walls thick enough to contain the radiation.
The twin-reactor facility at Lusby is the fifth nationwide to get its license renewed for such "dry cask" storage. At one time, the spent fuel rods from all nation's nuclear plants were supposed to be shipped to a single long-term repository in Yucca Mountain in Nevada. But controversy over the project stalled it for 20 years until President Obama ordered it canceled.
Calvert Cliffs' initial 20-year storage license expired in November 2012, but Constellation, then the owner, applied for a renewal in 2010. Exelon took over Calvert Cliffs after merging with Constellation.
Federal regulators held off acting on the Calvert Cliffs request until they had finalized regulations covering continued on-site storage at 71 plants nationwide. Under the renewal, Exelon is required to make periodic inspections of the casks and related components to spot and deal with any signs of aging, according to an NRC news release.