NRC Staff Reject Concerns About Nuke Waste Vulnerability to Terrorism

"WASHINGTON -- Nuclear Regulatory Commission staffers are rejecting the concerns of lawmakers, state officials and watchdog groups who say nuclear waste tightly packed in spent-fuel pools at U.S. power plants is vulnerable to terrorist attacks."

"In recent months, lawmakers and activists have been pushing NRC officials to address concerns that the spent-fuel pools -- many of which are currently filled beyond their originally intended capacity -- are at risk of causing a catastrophic fire. If an act of terrorism or nature caused water in the pools to drain, a fire could ensue and radiation could be dispersed throughout the surrounding area, they say.

The critics have urged the commission to require plant operators to move spent fuel rods into dry cask storage as soon as the rods complete a necessary five-year cooling-off period in the pools.

In a memo made public on Monday, NRC staff concludes, however, 'that the expedited transfer of spent fuel to dry cask storage would provide only a minor or limited safety benefit … and that its expected implementation costs would not be warranted.'"

Douglas P. Guarino reports for Global Security Newswire/National Journal November 20, 2013.

Source: National Journal, 11/21/2013