Reducing the Danger from Fires in Spent Fuel Pools

Frank N. von Hippel, Michael Schoeppner, "Reducing the Danger from Fires in Spent Fuel Pools," Science & Global Security 24, no. 3 (2016): 141-173

This article reviews the case of the spent fuel fire that almost happened at Fukushima in March 2011, and shows that, had the wind blown the released radioactivity toward Tokyo, 35 million people might have required relocation. It then reviews the findings by the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in 2013 that the consequences of a loss-of-water event could be drastically reduced if spent fuel were moved to dry storage after 5 years of pool cooling but that the probability of a spent fuel pool fire is too low to make this a requirement. Our atmospheric dispersion and deposition calculations using HYSPLIT for hypothetical releases from the Peach Bottom plant in Pennsylvania find average interdicted areas and populations requiring relocation larger than NRC estimates presented to the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) and support the NAS findings of errors and omissions in the NRC's cost-benefit calculations. Political pressures from industry on the NRC may be biasing its analyses toward regulatory inaction.

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