In addition to my concern about the "take title" portion of the bill introduced by Senator Harry Reid I'm disturbed by the proposal to amend the Nuclear Waste Policy Act to require
utilities to transfer nuclear fuel from cooling pools into storage casks within six years.As reported in this article of the Salt Lake Tribune.
Such a proposal clearly stems from a lack of understanding about how used fuel is managed at nuclear power plants.
First, both fuel pools and dry cask storage are robust and safe. After 9/11, the NRC re-evaluated them and concluded that a similar attack would not have a negative effect on public health and safety. Therefore, utilities should be allowed to choose the storage option that is best for their site.
After fuel reprocessing was halted in 1979, many new plants were built with larger pools to handle most, if not all, of the used fuel for the lifetime of the plant. These operators should be allowed to continue on that course without incurring the unnecessary costs of licensing, building, and operating an Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation (ISFSI).
Furthermore, plants that already have, or plan to have, ISFSIs should not be constrained by an arbitrary time limit for pool storage. Heck, some licensed designs currently in use require a minimum of seven years of pool storage before placement in a cask. The time limit is based primarily on heat load. And even for designs that allow earlier placement, it is optimal to have a mix of "old, cold" and "young hot" in any one cask. To constrain the ability of utilities to optimize (heat load, dose to operators, etc) their fuel loading would be unnecessarily costly and foolish.
Technorati tags: Nuclear Energy, Energy, Yucca Mountain