Economic Losses From a Fire in a Dense-Packed U.S. Spent Fuel Pool

Frank N. von Hippel, Michael Schoeppner, "Economic Losses From a Fire in a Dense-Packed U.S. Spent Fuel Pool," Science & Global Security 25, no. 2 (2017): 80-92

In 2013, the staff of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimated the reduction of the off-site economic losses from a fire in a drained U.S. spent fuel pool if fuel that had cooled for more than five years were transferred to dry cask storage--an option it called "expedited transfer." In this article, it is shown that the savings would be much higher than the NRC estimated. Savings increase to about $2 trillion if: losses beyond 50 miles are included; the land-contamination threshold for long-term population relocation is changed to that used for the Chernobyl and Fukushima accidents and recommended by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency; and, based on the experience of Japan, decontamination of land areas to levels acceptable for population return is assumed to take at least four years. If expedited transfer were implemented, the off-site economic losses would be reduced by about 98%.

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