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HOW TO BETTER DEFEND SPENT FUEL
Secured Dry Cask Storage of Spent Fuel

Problem

Because there is no federal repository for spent, highly radioactive spent fuel assemblies have been stored on site in densely packed spent fuel pools – in a space neither designed for current capacity nor to secure against a terrorist attack or act of malice. The spent fuel pools are vulnerable, especially those designed like Pilgrim's that is located outside primary containment in the attic of the reactor.

Massachusetts Attorney General Thomas Reilly joined his colleagues around the nation in a letter to Congress highlighting this danger.


Solution

Require low density pool storage of recently unloaded fuel that is too hot to place in casks and dispersed and hardened on-site dry cask storage of the rest as an interim measure to better protect the health and well being of impacted communities until all waste is moved off-site to a permanent federal repository.

Secured dry cask storage: “Secured” means that it is made resistant to both attack and human error. This must be achieved in three ways.

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Storage must be passively safe, so that spent fuel is safe without electrical power, cooling water or an operating crew – casks are passive whereas pools require electricity, coolant, human intervention... 

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Storage must be "hardened," so that the spent fuel and containment structures are protected from damage by attack – casks are stainless steel, with a concrete over-pack – further reinforce each cask by surrounding each with earth and gravel. 

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Storage must be "dispersed," so that spent fuel is not closely concentrated at one location – separate casks by 60 feet, as opposed to 6 feet, as is done pre 9-11. 

If the pool is returned to low density storage, as originally designed, it will allow for air circulation to keep the rods cool if water is lost - allowing for remedial action; assure a pool fire will not occur; make the reactor a less attractive target; and if there is an attack the consequences far less severe.

 

Resources- experts provide extensive research

Pilgrim- Massachusetts Attorney General's Request for a Hearing and Petition for Leave to Intervene with Respect to Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc.'s Application for Renewal of the Pilgrim Nuclear Power Plant Operating Licensee Massachusetts, May 2006 -Adams Accession Number ML061630088

Massachusetts Attorney General's Request for a Hearing and Petition for Leave to Intervene with Respect to Entergy Nuclear Operations Inc.'s Application for Renewal of the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant Operating License , May 2006- Adams Accession Number 061640065

2009/02/06-Environmental Impacts of Storing Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Waste from Commercial Nuclear Reactors: a Critique of NRC's Waste Confidence Decision and Environmental Impact Determination, NRC Electronic Library Adams Accession No. ML090960723

C-10 Research and Education Foundation: http://www.c-10.org/nuclear-waste-storage.html         

Nuclear Spent Fuel & Homeland Security, The Case for Hardened Storage: View 10 minute presentation

Institute for Resource and Security Studies: http://www.irss-usa.org/pages/enpub.html

Program in Science and Global Security, Princeton University
http://www.princeton.edu/~globsec/people/fvhippel_spentfuel.html Studies spent fuel hazards

Committee to Bridge the Gap:  http://www.committeetobridgethegap.org/beamhenge.html

 

Note: to access the NRC's Electronic Webpage documents on Adams: From www.nrc.gov home page, select  ADAMS Documents from the Electronic Reading Room menu at the left Then select Web-based access  from the main ADAMS page Select Begin ADAMS Search, enter ML number into the search field in parentheses press the search button.

 


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