In December 2021 the INF vessel Pacific Grebe arrived in the Port of Norrköping in Sweden after a long sail from South Korea. On board on the ship were several KEPCO Nuclear Fuel (KNF) irradiated fuel rods intended for qualification testing in the Studsvik hot cell laboratories. No export of irradiated fuel had ever been done from Korea before and about two weeks after arrival of the rods in Sweden, the first results from the post irradiation examinations could be delivered to KNF.
In the licensing process of the KNF developed HANA-6 cladding, HIPER fuel lead test assemblies
have been irradiated at Hanul nuclear power plant since early 2010’s. To verify the HANA-6 cladding mid- and end of life properties, post irradiation examinations including non-destructive and destructive methods are required.
KNF became a member of the Studsvik Cladding Integrity Project (SCIP) in 2008, and through this international collaboration they are familiar with Studsvik’s advanced testing techniques suitable for fuel qualification. At an early stage of the discussions, it was concluded that to allow a qualification test program in Studsvik facilities in Sweden, the first critical step was a marine transport of the spent nuclear fuel rods.
In September 2021, the tranportation cask was successfully loaded with the fuel inventory and all regulatory permits for the transport were finalized without any delays. Around two months later and according to time schedule, the Pacific Grebe was greeted at the Port of Norrköping in Sweden where the cargo was safely unloaded from the ship and carried by truck to the Studsvik site.
Given the complexity of this transport and the fact that several activities were performed for the first time ever, many stakeholders have been involved and strongly contributed to this shipment. The high degree of cooperation between all involved parties should be emphasized as the key success factor for the HIPER fuel transport project completion.