Used Fuel

Industry/Regulatory/Political

  • The town of Hirono in Fukushima prefecture plans to test a system that would reduce the volume of radioactive debris requiring disposal by up to a factor of 300. The equipment would heat-treat the materials in an oxygen-free environment and use a ceramic powder to absorb radioactive materials.
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Plant Status

  • Tokyo Electric Power Co. reported Sunday that it has begun removing radioactive cesium from the used fuel pool at Fukushima Daiichi reactor 2. TEPCO said this is a preparatory step to desalinating the pool water to avert corrosion of metallic components. After the March 11 accident, TEPCO used seawater to cool the fuel in the reactors and the pools. The company has been purifying and recycling water since July to cool the reactors, but it has now begun to purify the water in the used fuel pools. TEPCO reported that it has already begun desalinating reactor 4’s pool.
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Monitoring Used Nuclear Fuel Pools

Responding to Fukushima: Part 3 of a 5-Part Series

The events at Fukushima unveiled an important lesson to the nuclear industry on the need to remotely monitor water temperature and levels in used fuel storage pools during an extended loss of power. In particular, when power was lost at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi reactors, the systems the plant relied on to monitor the used fuel pools were inoperable. That loss led some to erroneously conclude that there was no water in the spent fuel pool at reactor 4—a conclusion that was later proven to be false.

The industry supports the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) recommendation that U.S. nuclear energy facilities enhance used fuel pool monitoring instrumentation. The storage pools protect used fuel rods under 40 feet of water to allow radioactivity in the fuel to safely decrease. Adding backup monitoring equipment enables operators to know when they need to take action to maintain water level and temperature of used fuel storage pools in the unlikely event that installed systems have been disabled.
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Though the Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s (NRC) Fukushima task force confirmed that America’s nuclear energy facilities are safe, the industry is committed to ensuring that it incorporates all relevant lessons from Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi facility to make nuclear energy facilities even safer.

As the nuclear industry, federal regulators and international experts work to learn and apply lessons from the events at Fukushima, the U.S. nuclear industry already is adding new layers of safety and preparedness.  This is a starting point for what will be a carefully considered effort to further strengthen safety at U.S. nuclear plants.
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Industry/Regulatory/Political Issues

  • U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commissioner Gregory Jaczko this week said the agency’s near-term priorities to supplement safety and emergency response at America’s nuclear energy facilities include revising existing rules to cover emergency preparedness at multi-reactor facilities and used nuclear fuel pool monitoring. A video of Jaczko’s remarks is available on the National Journal’s website. The nuclear energy industry agrees with the majority of the issues identified for near-term action.
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Activity ID: 1002943 Activity Name: NEI Remarketing Safety Activity Group Name: Remarketing Safety First