TVA nuclear waste storage pact has hot history

photo Ray Golden, manager of nuclear communications for the Tennessee Valley Authority, stands in front of a set of empty dry casks that will house used nuclear fuel rods at the Sequoyah Nuclear Plant.

The nuclear disaster in Japan and the abandonment of a spent fuel repository at Yucca Mountain, Nev., have prompted TVA to consider a $298 million contract for giant concrete and steel casks to store nuclear waste outside its operating plants.

TVA's board in April authorized the federal utility to contract with Holtec International, a company that makes the giant casks. The casks hold highly radioactive spent fuel after it has cooled for five years underwater inside the nuclear plants.