spent fuel


Reactor Core Damage: Meltdown

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

Disaster by Design/Safety by Intent #26

Disaster by Design

We often talk and write about equipment failures and/or worker mistakes that increased the chances of reactor core damage. And much is reported about damaged reactor cores, such as during the five years since three reactor cores at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant in Japan became damaged. This commentary explains how a reactor core overheats and melts down. Read more >

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Perils of New Nuclear Fuel: Part 4 – Grand Gulf’s Painted Water

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

Fission Stories #189

The previous two Fission Stories commentaries (#187 and #188) described problems at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station near Port Gibson, Mississippi involving new fuel bundles stored in the new fuel vault and later in transferring them into the spent fuel pool. This post caps the trilogy by describing a problem encountered with the new fuel bundles in the spent fuel pool. Read more >

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Perils of New Nuclear Fuel: Part 3 – Grand Gulf’s Safety Suspension

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

Fission Stories #188

The previous Fission Stories commentary described a problem at the Grand Gulf Nuclear Station near Port Gibson, Mississippi that prevented workers from transferring fuel bundles from the new fuel vault to the spent fuel pool. This post describes a problem encountered shortly after that problem was eliminated and the transfers began. Read more >

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Commenting on the Waste Confidence Decision

, former director, Nuclear Safety Project

In December 2010, the NRC issued a waste confidence rule with its determination that spent fuel could safely remain at nuclear power plant sites after reactors permanently shut down. This rule was necessary because the federal government has not provided a repository for disposal of spent fuel. The original waste confidence rule issued in 1984 determined that spent fuel could be safely stored onsite for three decades while a repository was sited, constructed, and opened. Read more >

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Crowded Spent Fuel Pools

, co-director and senior scientist

Spent fuel pools pose a much bigger threat to public safety than they should because of the large amount of radioactive material they contain, which could be released to the environment in a severe accident.

While concerns tend to focus on the nuclear fuel contained in reactor cores, cooling pools in the U.S. typically contain much more fuel than the core. Currently, U.S. pools overall contain over 5 times more radioactive fuel than is in all the reactor cores, and some individual reactor pools contain more than 8 times as much fuel as the reactor core. Yet the pools don’t have the same level of protection or safety systems as the reactor cores.  Read more >

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