Viewpoints: Nuclear waste bill endangers public health – Viewpoints – The Sacramento Bee

New legislation introduced by Senator Feinstein “squanders bipartisan efforts” to mitigate storage of highly nuclear wastes. Lessons from Japan tell us engineers still need to figure out transference of rod pools to dry castes storage.

A major push in the eighties to solve this was the Monitored Retrievable Storage (MRS) facility in Tennessee for interim fix and long term storage in Yucca Mountain Arizona. Here is excerpt from Sacramento Bee:

In an April 8, 2011, letter that Feinstein sent to Nuclear Regulatory Commission Chairman Gregory Jaczko, she said: “The lesson from Japan’s disaster is that we must be prepared to respond to unanticipated threats,” imploring that he “seriously consider regulatory policies that would encourage the movement of nuclear fuel, once sufficiently cool, out of spent fuel pools and into dry cask storage systems. I am concerned that current Nuclear Regulatory Commission policies allow excessive re-racking and densification of radioactive fuel within spent fuel pools.”

We strongly support Feinstein’s early position on this critical issue. Getting as much highly radioactive waste as possible out of these weakly reinforced pools and into safer storage has been a stated priority of nuclear power experts, including the NRC’s new chairwoman, Alison Macfarlane. In a bizarre twist, a June NRC staff report concluded that pool-based storage of irradiated fuel is adequate and there is only a one in 10 million years chance of a severe earthquake causing a radioactive release from the pool examined in the study. Contradicting this latest study, in 2007 the NRC concluded that a spent fuel pool crack caused by an earthquake at the San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station could result in a lethal dose of radiation being released within a 10-mile radius of the plant. We ignore these “black swan” events, such as those which occurred in Japan, at great peril.

Feinstein and her colleagues would be wise to also address the immediate safety issues of spent fuel waste at reactor sites, rather than leave our state’s safety hostage to a vague process of identifying voluntary waste sites that could take many years to complete.

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