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Environment

NRC Backs Storage Of Fuel In Pools

by Jeff Johnson
June 2, 2014 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 92, ISSUE 22

In a divided vote, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission last week endorsed continued storage of radioactive spent fuel in cooling pools next to reactor sites. The vote supports a staff recommendation that spent-fuel assemblies are safe as they are now—stored in swimming-pool-like structures at operating and shuttered power plants. The staff recommendation grew from a study begun in 2011 in response to Japan’s Fukushima nuclear plant disaster. Only NRC Chair Allison M. Macfarlane opposed the recommendation, saying the staff had not adequately explored the issue. She urged them to continue their research. Macfarlane noted that the pools often contain four times the original planned volume of spent fuel. Blasting the NRC vote were several senators who have introduced legislation that would require spent fuel to be moved from pools to dry casks (see page 22).

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