Fuel is the fissile material able to trigger a nuclear reaction within the reactor; after being used, the fuel is cooled in the pools and removed from the nuclear power plant packed in specific highly resistant metallic containers called “casks” to be reprocessed.
This process allows recovering reusable materials and reducing the amount of radioactive waste to less than 5%. The residual material is conditioned and significantly reduced in size, to ensure it can be safely stored in the long-term.
When the Caorso nuclear power plant activity was halted, 1,302 uranium and oxide irradiated fuel elements were stored in the site (approx. 190 tonnes). Removing such fuel elements from the site is fundamental before dismantling the systems and components in the building.
The action, initially involving the on-site “dry storage” of fuel elements in a specifically-designed temporary repository, was subsequently converted to shipping the fuel elements abroad for reprocessing.