Nuclear Spent Fuel Pools and Their Potential Impacts UPDATED

US Spent Nuclear Fuel Largest Concentration Of Radioactivity On Planet

US has 71,000 metric tons of spent nuclear fuel that is not properly protected..

…these pools were vulnerable, and that if they were caused to–something caused them to drain–they would lose their water–the temperature in the spent fuel, because of the radioactive material decaying, would get so high that it would cause, essentially, the cladding of the fuel to catch fire and release catastrophic amounts of radioactivity. And we estimated that a single pool fire in the United States at a typical reactor could render an area uninhabitable substantially greater than that created by the Chernobyl accident…. Four to five times (greater).

- Bob Alvarez

PDF of Robert Alvarez 2011 – Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools in The US

Tell your State Representatives to attend the Congressional Briefing on Nuclear Sep. 20th

A week has passed since the ground breaking Federal decision to cease issuance of nuclear operating licenses. Until now there has been little to no discussion of Vermont Yankee’s situation. VT Digger- Nuclear Regulatory Commission puts halt to nuclear power licensing decisions

What the NRC’s decision means for the 40-year-old Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power Plant in Vernon is unclear…. No one interviewed for this story said Vermont Yankee’s relicensure case would be re-evaluated by the NRC. Several sources suggested the commission’s new requirement for environmental assessment of waste storage could have an impact on the Vermont Public Service Board’s pending consideration of a certificate of public good for the plant.

Below is the link to a Podcast from August 10, 2012 interviewing Arnie Gundersen in a discussion about the current post accident status at Fukushima Daiichi, the lessons the United States has not learned from that triple meltdown, and the cultural shift happening in Japan as a result of this catastrophe. Additionally, Rick and Arnie discuss the serious safety consequences of the steam generator problems at Southern California Edison’s San Onofre’s plant as well as the recent nuclear waste licensing decision mandated by the courts.

When/if the NRC comes out with their EIS on long term storage for nuclear waste, you should be able to see and review it on the EPA’s EIS Database – http://www.epa.gov/compliance/nepa/eisdata.html 

To understand more about this process and the Public’s role in Environmental review check out – The Citizens Guide to NEPA  and A Citizen’s Guide to Using Federal Environmental Laws

This is the only existing EIS for Vermont Yankee I could find – VY-EIS 2007

§309 Reviewers Guidance for New Nuclear Power Plant Environmental Impact Statements – This analysis addressed fuel cycle impacts on land use, water consumption, thermal effluents, chemical effluents, radioactive releases, burial of transuranic and high- and low-level wastes, radiation doses from transportation other than fuel to the plant itself and spent fuel and radioactive wastes from the plant itself, and occupational exposures. -  (emphasis added)

The NRC could try to avoid preparing an EIS by conducting an Environmental Assessment and label Nuclear Waste storage a Finding of No Significant Impact (“FONSI”). As ARnie states in the podcast above all they have to do is waive their own requirements… Lets hope they don’t, It is definitely significant, if an 82 year old nun can break into the most heavily guarded weapons grade uranium enrichment facility…..Yikes!

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One thought on “Nuclear Spent Fuel Pools and Their Potential Impacts UPDATED

  1. *This summer, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of several states, NRDC and others who had brought suit challenging the NRC’s “waste confidence rule.” This rule had stated that the NRC need not consider radioactive waste generation in licensing new reactors or extending licenses of existing reactors, because the NRC was confident that a permanent radioactive waste site would be licensed eventually and that, if not, existing on-site storage is good enough in any case. The court ruled that the NRC has no reason to believe a permanent site will be established and has no technical basis for stating that existing on-site storage methods (primarily fuel pools) are good enough.

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