A Congressional delegation, comprised of Congressmen Mike Rogers, Rick Larsen, Doug Lamborn from the House Armed Services Committee, and Congressman Chuck Fleischmann of the House Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, visited the Naval Reactors Facility (NRF) at the Idaho National Laboratory (INL). The legislators were accompanied byDr. Elizabeth Sherwood-Randall, Deputy Secretary of Energy; Lt. Gen. Frank G. Klotz (ret.), DOE Under Secretary for Nuclear Security and NNSA Administrator; and Admiral John Richardson, Deputy Administrator, Office of Naval Reactors.
The group observed NRF processes at the Expended Core Facility (ECF). This facility is vital to national security, as it is the only location with the capability to receive, examine, and process naval spent nuclear fuel, necessary for the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program to support continuous, day-to-day operations of the Navy’s nuclear powered fleet.
The 55-year-old ECF is maintained and operated in a safe and environmentally responsible manner, but the facility must be recapitalized to ensure continuous and efficient support of the fleet. It currently cannot support receipt of full-length aircraft carrier spent nuclear fuel, necessary to support the Navy’s refueling and defueling schedules for nuclear powered submarine and aircraft carriers.
The delegation discussed the Spent Fuel Handling Recapitalization Project (SFHP), designed to recapitalize the spent fuel handling infrastructure at NRF for receipt, preparation, temporary storage, and packaging of naval spent nuclear fuel for secure dry storage and eventual shipment to a geologic repository. This project will retain the capabilities for naval spent nuclear fuel handling that currently exists in the ECF and its support facilities. The SFHP will help guarantee the operational availability of the nuclear fleet to fulfill military missions worldwide.
Additionally, the group received briefings on the Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation work conducted at INL. The lab provides facilities and capabilities that are vital to the nonproliferation mission. The complex provides substantial resources and technical expertise to help achieve highly enriched uranium minimization both domestically and abroad and continues to play a critical role in DNN’s efforts to strengthen cyber security activities at nuclear facilities and installations. NNSA provides 23 percent of the total INL budget.