Skip to main content

Troubled by "Take Title," Part Two

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: , ,


naive engineer said…
There seem to be two groups of people interested in Sen. Reid's proposed bill to have the government "take title" of spent fuel in dry cask storage at nuclear reactor sites. Reid represents a contingent that either opposes nuclear power (which the senator says he favors) or who simply oppose disposal of the spent fuel at the Yucca Mountain repository.
It is good that we hear from the second group, which I term "the engineers," who actually understand spent fuel and its safe management.
Setting aside the unstated or unknown costs to implement the Reid proposal, let me ask just how the senator expects the "Spent Nuclear Fuel On-Site Storage Security Act" would improve security? We can debate whether managing spent fuel in 72 locations mostly in the populous east along rivers and other bodies of water is more secure than a single, underground facility on government land in the isolated part of Southern Nevada. But here is a more practical look at it, that the "engineers" might raise. If the government takes over the spent fuel storage area within the reactor site "compound" and needs to provide security for it, won't the utility still need to provide security for the rest of the complex? Of course it must. So, then there could be one set of "guns" under federal control and another set under control of the utility. Is this gonna make it more secure? In military defenses it is important to have "unity of command," that I don't sense working too well under the Reid scheme. It might work, but it might not. Before some "all or nothing" approach, would it not be worth a pilot application to see how workable the split management would work?
Anonymous said…
Senator Harry Reid's bill is of selfish motivation. He is ignorant and shortsighted in this issue. Its just all about the "not in my backyard syndrome".
Anonymous said…
Senator Reid's Bill is in any way or form have anything to do in solving the nuclear waste problem. It is rushed and ill-informed.
Anonymous said…
Does anyone really believe that having DOE take title to the spent fuel at 72 sites is more secure? Does anyone think that setting up 72 new DOE sites is going to be more cost-efficient than shipping the spent fuel to Yucca Mountain? Of course not. This is nothing more than a ploy to try to starve the Yucca Mountain project, so that it eventually dies simply from a lack of funding. The industry must remain firm on the commitment that we need YM.
I would imagine that the senators and representatives from the states where these 72 new interim storage sites will come into existence would be loath to support this "security act."

Popular posts from this blog

Making Clouds for a Living

Donell Banks works at Southern Nuclear’s Plant Vogtle units 3 and 4 as a shift supervisor in Operations, but is in the process of transitioning to his newly appointed role as the daily work controls manager. He has been in the nuclear energy industry for about 11 years.

I love what I do because I have the unique opportunity to help shape the direction and influence the culture for the future of nuclear power in the United States. Every single day presents a new challenge, but I wouldn't have it any other way. As a shift supervisor, I was primarily responsible for managing the development of procedures and programs to support operation of the first new nuclear units in the United States in more than 30 years. As the daily work controls manager, I will be responsible for oversight of the execution and scheduling of daily work to ensure organizational readiness to operate the new units.

I envision a nuclear energy industry that leverages the technology of today to improve efficiency…

Why America Needs the MOX Facility

If Isaiah had been a nuclear engineer, he’d have loved this project. And the Trump Administration should too, despite the proposal to eliminate it in the FY 2018 budget.

The project is a massive factory near Aiken, S.C., that will take plutonium from the government’s arsenal and turn it into fuel for civilian power reactors. The plutonium, made by the United States during the Cold War in a competition with the Soviet Union, is now surplus, and the United States and the Russian Federation jointly agreed to reduce their stocks, to reduce the chance of its use in weapons. Over two thousand construction workers, technicians and engineers are at work to enable the transformation.

Carrying Isaiah’s “swords into plowshares” vision into the nuclear field did not originate with plutonium. In 1993, the United States and Russia began a 20-year program to take weapons-grade uranium out of the Russian inventory, dilute it to levels appropriate for civilian power plants, and then use it to produce…

Nuclear: Energy for All Political Seasons

The electoral college will soon confirm a surprise election result, Donald Trump. However, in the electricity world, there are fewer surprises – physics and economics will continue to apply, and Republicans and Democrats are going to find a lot to like about nuclear energy over the next four years.

In a Trump administration, the carbon conversation is going to be less prominent. But the nuclear value proposition is still there. We bring steady jobs to rural areas, including in the Rust Belt, which put Donald Trump in office. Nuclear plants keep the surrounding communities vibrant.

We hold down electricity costs for the whole economy. We provide energy diversity, reducing the risk of disruption. We are a critical part of America’s industrial infrastructure, and the importance of infrastructure is something that President-Elect Trump has stressed.

One of our infrastructure challenges is natural gas pipelines, which have gotten more congested as extremely low gas prices have pulled m…