ÂUS stores spent nuclear fuel rods at 4 times poolÂ capacity
By Rady Ananda
In a recent interview with The Real News Network, Robert Alvarez, a nuclear policy specialist since 1975, reports that spent nuclear fuel in the United States comprises the largest concentration of radioactivity on the planet: 71,000 metric tons. Worse, since the Yucca Mountain waste repository has been scrapped due to its proximity to active faults (see last image), the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission has allowed reactor operators to store four times more waste in the spent fuel pools than theyâ€™re designed to handle.
Each Fukushima spent fuel pool holds about 100 metric tons, he says, while each US pool holds from 500-700 metric tons. A single pool fire would release catastrophic amounts of radioactivity, rendering 17-22,000 square miles of area uninhabitable. Thatâ€™s about the size of New Hampshire and Vermont â€“ from one pool fire.
In a March 25th interview, physician and nuclear activist Dr Helen Caldicott explains that â€œthereâ€™s far more radiation in each of the cooling pools than there is in each reactor itselfâ€¦. Now the very short-lived isotopes have decayed away to nothing. But the long-lived ones, the very dangerous ones, Cesium, Strontium, Uranium, Plutonium, Americium, Curium, Neptunium, I mean really dangerous ones, the long-lived ones â€“ thatâ€™s what the fuel pools hold.â€
Nuclear waste, in the form of tiny pellets, are loaded into metal rods, that are then bundled into a â€œfuel assembly.â€ The assemblies are stored inside casements that are then submerged in cooling pools that are located at the top of a nuclear reactor, as the following images reveal:
The image at the top of the article shows an entire pool filled with these assemblies. There are millions of these rods around the planet, reports Reuters.Â Â Â Â Â Read more...