Experts: NRC letting threat fester at Unit 4 because acknowledging it would call into question safety at dozens of identically designed nuclear plants US in

Published: May 5th, 2012 at 3:34 pm ET
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The Worst Yet to Come? Why Nuclear Experts Are Calling Fukushima a Ticking Time-Bomb
Alternet
Brad Jacobson
May 4, 2012

[...] nuclear waste experts say the Japanese are literally playing with fire in the way nuclear spent fuel continues to be stored onsite, especially in reactor 4, which contains the most irradiated fuel — 10 times the deadly cesium-137 released during the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear accident. These experts also charge that the NRC is letting this threat fester because acknowledging it would call into question safety at dozens of identically designed nuclear power plants around the U.S., which contain exceedingly higher volumes of spent fuel in similar elevated pools outside of reinforced containment. [...]

“The U.S. government right now is engaged in its own kabuki theatre to protect the U.S. industry from the real costs of the lessons at Fukushima,” [Paul Gunter of Beyond Nuclear] said. “The NRC and its champions in the White House and on Capitol Hill are looking to obfuscate the real threats and the necessary policy changes to address the risk.”

There are 31 G.E. Mark I and Mark II boiling water reactors (BRWs) in the U.S., the type used at Fukushima. All of these reactors, which comprise just under a third of all nuclear reactors in the U.S., store their spent fuel in elevated pools located outside the primary, or reinforced, containment that protects the reactor core. Thus, the outside structure, the building ostensibly protecting the storage pools, is much weaker, in most cases about as sturdy, experts describe in interviews with AlterNet, as a structure one would find housing a car dealership or a Wal-Mart. [...]

“Our pools are more crammed to the gills than the unit 4 pool at Fukushima Daiichi, much more so,” noted [Kevin Kamps, nuclear waste expert at] Beyond Nuclear. “It’s kind of like a very thick forest that’s waiting for a wildfire. It would take extraordinary measures to prevent nuclear chain reactions in our pools because the waste is so closely packed in there.” [...]

Read the in-depth report here

Published: May 5th, 2012 at 3:34 pm ET
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