[ RadSafe ] Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage: Public Report
cary.renquist at ezag.com
Tue Mar 26 11:25:05 CDT 2013
NAS report on safety and security of spent fuel:
All NAS documents can now be downloaded for free.
In response to a request from Congress, the Nuclear Regulatory
Commission and the Department of Homeland Security sponsored a National
Academies study to assess the safety and security risks of spent nuclear
fuel stored in cooling pools and dry casks at commercial nuclear power
plants. The information provided in this book examines the risks of
terrorist attacks using these materials for a radiological dispersal
device. Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel is an
unclassified public summary of a more detailed classified book. The book
finds that successful terrorist attacks on spent fuel pools, though
difficult, are possible. A propagating fire in a pool could release
large amounts of radioactive material, but rearranging spent fuel in the
pool during storage and providing emergency water spray systems would
reduce the likelihood of a propagating fire even under severe damage
conditions. The book suggests that additional studies are needed to
better understand these risks. Although dry casks have advantages over
cooling pools, pools are necessary at all operating nuclear power plants
to store at least the recently discharged fuel. The book explains it
would be difficult for terrorists to steal enough spent fuel to
construct a significant radiological dispersal device.
Congress requested that the National Academies produce a classified
report that addresses these charges within 6 months and also provide an
unclassified summary for unlimited public distribution. The first
request was fulfilled in July 2004. This report fulfills the second
The highlights of the report are as follows:
Spent fuel pools are necessary at all operating nuclear power plants
to store recently discharged fuel.
The committee judges that successful terrorist attacks on spent fuel
pools, though difficult, are possible.
If an attack leads to a propagating zirconium cladding fire, it
could result in the release of large amounts of radioactive material.
Additional analyses are needed to understand more fully the
vulnerabilities and consequences of events that could lead to
propagating zirconium cladding fires.
It appears to be feasible to reduce the likelihood of a zirconium
cladding fire by rearranging spent fuel assemblies in the pool and
making provision for water-spray systems that would be able to cool the
fuel, even if the pool or overlying building were severely damaged.
Dry cask storage has inherent security advantages over spent fuel
pool storage, but it can only be used to store older spent fuel
There are no large security differences among different storage-cask
It would be difficult for terrorists to steal enough spent fuel from
storage facilities for use in significant radiological dispersal devices
Cary.renquist at ezag.com
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