01/06/2011 - 04:00 am

Transferring Casks at Fuel Storage Facilities Gets Safer

The self-propelled modular transporter from Wheelift Systems, Waverly, Iowa, is designed to increase levels of safety and efficiency while transferring and aligning spent fuel casks at independent spent fuel storage installation facilities. The Wheelift SPMT reduces worker exposure by requiring fewer people to operate, align, and insert the cask. Only one person is needed to operate the transporter from as far as 30 to 50 feet away. According to Wheellift, the transporter’s omni-directional steering and 10-inch lift capability allows the same operator to perform alignments remotely to within 1/32 of an inch and eliminates the need for an independent leveling and alignment system.

The transporter uses an onboard diesel-driven generator to supply the transporter’s electric power. This generator also provides power for the transfer cask ram’s hydraulic power unit. An alternative shore power connector is available for quiet operation as a backup system while aligning and loading spent fuel. The Wheelift transporter uses a custom-designed cask support skid on top of its deck with the push cylinder fitted with an electrically actuated grapple to eliminate the possibility of a broken hydraulic line that could potentially contaminate the HSM.

Constellation Energy’s Ginna Nuclear Plant in upstate New York was the first to use the Wheelift transporters in its NUHOMS spent fuel storage operations. “The degree of added safety, fast precision alignment and effortless movement throughout the process has totally changed our approach to spent fuel handling.” said Bryan Flynn, project manager for the Ginna ISFSI project.

The Wheelift SPMT’s omni-directional travel capability allows increased maneuverability in tight spaces. Because each axle and wheel is independently controlled, the transporter can travel forward, backward, laterally, at an angle, and rotate on nearly any while fully loaded. This capability allows for greater storage density and utilization of the space needed for ISFSI storage facilities without losing the ability to easily align the NUHOMS casks with the HSM. Tug and trailer technology typically requires 70 feet of space between the HSM modules. Wheelift’s SPMT’s can operate in 35 to 40 feet, allowing greater storage efficiency for both current and future storage needs. The transfer cask can be removed from the Wheelift transporter deck to allow the unit to perform other heavy haul tasks as needed. This multi-task versatility can augment or eliminate other heavy lifting equipment such as cranes.

“We are currently looking at making alternative skids for our refueling outage, to be able to move other heavy components with the transporter,” Flynn said.

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