Dry cask storage is disgusting! A response to Dianne Feinstein’s letter of this morning (6/27/2011)

I just received the following form letter from Dianne Feinstein.  She endorses dry cask storage as if it’s a solution to the waste problem.  It isn’t!  It just allows the utilities to keep on making more radioactive spent fuel waste.

—————————————-

Dear Mr. Hoffman:

Thank you for writing to share your opposition to the “Nuclear Power 2021 Act.” I appreciate the time you took to write and welcome the opportunity to respond.

The earthquake and tsunami that struck Japan on March 11, 2011, caused a systemic failure at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Power Station. I believe we have an obligation to learn lessons from the disaster in Japan in order to ensure that our nuclear plants are as safe as possible. I recently visited both of California’s nuclear power plants in order to learn more about their emergency preparedness, and on March 30, 2011, I held a hearing on U.S. nuclear power safety in the Senate Appropriations Subcommittee on Energy and Water Development, which I chair.

After visiting the plants and hearing expert testimony, I believe there are a number of important lessons we can learn from this tragedy. I have called on the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) to require that nuclear fuel be moved from cooling pools to dry cask storage systems, which would provide increased security and reduce the impact of a catastrophic accident at a nuclear facility. I also asked the NRC to consider seismic and tsunami hazards, emergency preparedness, and other risks facing nuclear power plants in the relicensing process for existing plants. I have attached for your information two of my recent letters to the NRC.

On March 8, 2011, Senator Jeff Bingaman (D-NM) introduced the “Nuclear Power 2021 Act” (S. 512), which would direct the Department of Energy to establish a program to design small modular nuclear reactors (less than 300 megawatts). This legislation is currently awaiting action in the Senate Committee on Energy and Natural Resources, of which I am not a member.

I appreciate knowing your opposition to S. 512 and will be sure to keep your thoughts in mind should the Senate consider this or similar legislation during the 112th Congress.

Again, thank you for writing. If you have further questions or comments, please contact my office in Washington, D.C. at (202) 224-3841. Best regards.

Sincerely yours,

Dianne Feinstein

United States Senator

Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the Nation are available at my website, Feinstein.senate.gov. You can also receive electronic e-mail updates by subscribing to my e-mail list. Click here to sign up. Feel free to checkout my YouTube Page.

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DANIEL K. INOUYE, HAWAII, CHAIRMAN
THAD COCHRAN, MISSISSIPPI, VICE CHAIRMAN
PATRICK J. LEAHY, VERMONT
TOM HARKIN, IOWA
BARBARA A. MIKULSKI, MARYLAND
HERB KOHL, WISCONSIN
PATTY MURRAY, WASHINGTON
DIANNE FEINSTEIN, CALIFORNIA
RICHARD J. DURBIN, ILLINOIS
TIM JOHNSON, SOUTH DAKOTA
MARY L. LANDRIEU, LOUISIANA
JACK REED, RHODE ISLAND
MITCH McCONNELL, KENTUCKY
RICHARD C. SHELBY, ALABAMA
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, TEXAS
LAMAR ALEXANDER, TENNESSEE
SUSAN COLLINS, MAINE
LISA MURKOWSKI, ALASKA ~nitfd ~tatfS ~fnatf
FRANK R. LAUTENBERG, NEW JERSEY
BEN NELSON, NEBRASKA
MARK PRYOR, ARKANSAS
JON TESTER, MONTANA
SHERROD BROWN, OHIO
LINDSEY GRAHAM, SOUTH CAROLINA
MARK KIRK, ILLINOIS
DANIEL COATS, INDIANA
ROY BLUNT, MISSOURI
JERRY MORAN, KANSAS
JOHN HOEVEN, NORTH DAKOTA
RON JOHNSON, WISCONSIN
CHARLES J. HOUY, STAFF DIRECTOR
BRUCE EVANS, MINORITY STAFF DIRECTOR
The Honorable Gregory Jaczko
Chairman
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
Dear Chairman J aczko:
COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
WASHINGTON, DC 20510-6025
http://appropriations.senate.gov
April 20, 2011
I am writing to request that the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) begin examining seismic and tsunami hazards, operational issues,
plant security, emergency preparedness, spent fuel storage options and other
elements of a nuclear power plant’s “design basis” within the scope of the
relicensing process.
The current relicensing process is focused entirely on identifying and
managing the detrimental effects of aging plant facilities. The process does
not reevaluate the threat assessment that formed the basis of the plant’s
original design.
I believe that our understanding of many threats – especially seismic
threats, tsunami threats, spent fuel risks, and terrorist threats – has improved
dramatically since most nuclear power plants were originally designed and
licensed thirty or more years ago. Relicensing these facilities offers a unique
opportunity to review the original assessment of potential threats, in order to
ensure that a facility is designed to endure all threats safely.
I appreciate that the NRC continuously reviews threats, and has
required upgrades to address newly understood concerns outside of the
relicensing process. For instance, the Commission issued rules to lower the
risk of hydrogen explosions when this threat was identified in the 1980s.
However, the ongoing assessment process places the burden of proof on the
NRC to demonstrate that a design or operational modification of a fully
licensed facility is necessary. In contrast, the relicensing process would
place the burden of proof on the facility to demonstrate that it is designed to
endure and survive all potential threats.
Recent events demonstrate that thirty year old threat assessments can
be devastatingly inaccurate. In Japan there have been two earthquakes in
four years that exceeded the “design basis” of nuclear plants. In California,
researchers have recently found new faults close to nuclear power plants,
and tsunami experts have learned that submarine landslides can generate
local tsunamis far larger than previously believed. Finally, recent research
has demonstrated the susceptibility of storing radioactive spent fuel in
densely packed pools. These new threats logically should be considered in a
relicensing process, just as they would be in the licensing of a new nuclear
power plant in the United States.
I strongly encourage the NRC to modify its relicensing policies in
order to assure a full reexamination of design basis elements, including
seismic and tsunami hazards, operational issues, plant security, emergency
preparedness, and spent fuel storage options. If you have any questions or
concerns about this request, please do not hesitate to contact me. I look
forward to working with you to ensure that the United States has the world’s
safest nuclear industry.
DF/mbn
Sincerely,
Dianne Feinstein
Chairman
Subcommittee on Energy and Water
Development

——————————————————

DANIEL K. INOUYE, HAWAII, CHAIRMAN
THAD COCHRAN, MISSISSIPPI, VICE CHAIRMAN
PATRICK J. LEAHY, VERMONT
TOM HARKIN, IOWA
BARBARA A. MIKULSKI, MARYLAND
HERB KOHL, WISCONSIN
PATTY MURRAY, WASHINGTON
DIANNE FEINSTEIN, CALIFORNIA
RICHARD J, DURBIN, ILLINOIS
TIM JOHNSON, SOUTH DAKOTA
MARY L. LANDRIEU, LOUISIANA
JACK REED, RHODE ISLAND
FRANK R, LAUTEN BERG, NEW JERSEY
BEN NELSON, NEBRASKA
MARK PRYOR, ARKANSAS
JON TESTER, MONTANA
SHERROD BROWN, OHIO
MITCH McCONNELL, KENTUCKY
RICHARD C, SHELBY, ALABAMA
KAY BAILEY HUTCHISON, TEXAS
LAMAR ALEXANDER, TENNESSEE
SUSAN COLLINS, MAINE
LISA MURKOWSKI, ALASKA
LINDSEY GRAHAM, SOUTH CAROLINA
MARK KIRK, ILLINOIS
DANIEL COATS, INDIANA
ROY BLUNT, MISSOURI
JERRY MORAN, KANSAS
JOHN HOEVEN, NORTH DAKOTA
RON JOHNSON, WISCONSIN
CHARLES J. HOUY, STAFF DIRECTOR
BRUCE EVANS, MINORITY STAFF DIRECTOR
The Honorable Gregory laczko
Chairman
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001
Dear Chairman 1 aczko:
tlnitrd ~tatrs ~rnatr
COMMITTEE ON APPROPRIATIONS
WASHINGTON, DC 20510-6025
http://appropriations.senate.gov
April 8, 2011
I am writing to ask that you 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. In fact, there are examples in the U.S. where nuclear fuel rods
have been stored in spent fuel pools for decades.
According to “Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage,” a
report published in 2006 by the National Research Council at the request of Congress,
dry cask storage systems have inherent safety advantages over spent fuel pool storage.
The report highlighted three main differences between these two storage options:
1. Less spent fuel is at risk in an accident or attack on a dry storage cask than
on a spent fuel pool. An accident or attack on a dry cask facility would likely
affect only a few casks at a time. An accident or attack on a spent fuel pool places
the entire fuel inventory at risk.

[[[ This is utterly ridiculous. The assumption that “only a few dry casks” would be attacked or damaged is based on NOTHING BUT HOPE. Look at how tight they are packed together at SanO or anywhere else!  THINK what ONE JUMBO JET COULD DO!  The only thing that makes dry cask fuel the least bit safer is that it’s not as “Fresh” out of the “oven” as new fuel! — Ace ]]]


2. The consequences of an accident or terrorist attack on a dry cask storage
facility are lower than those for a spent fuel pool. If an accident or attack on a
dry cask facility resulted in radioactive material being released, the dispersion
could likely be contained easier than if a spent fuel pool were compromised.

[[[ Equally ridiculous since it’s based on (1) above, the assumption that only “a few” casks would be affected. But listen here folks: If you read the detailed description of so-called accident scenarios for dry casks in transit to Yucca Mountain or at any other time, DOE descriptions, only a tiny, tiny fraction of a dry cask’s fuel load is ever released in their accident scenarios!” Senator Feinstein is full of hot are on this one, too. We need to shut the reactors, and that’s that. — Ace ]]]
3. The recovery from an attack on a dry cask would be much easier than the
recovery from an attack on a spent fuel pool. Containing radiation that could
be released from damage to dry casks can be plugged temporarily with radiationabsorbing
materials until permanent fixes are available. Containing radiation from
a compromised spent fuel pool is likely to be much more difficult, particularly if
the overlying building collapsed preventing workers from reaching the pool.
When taken together, these points assert that the risk of a non-recoverable accident
decreases when spent nuclear fuel is kept in smaller, easier to manage, containers that are
distributed intelligently on a secure site. The continuous re-racking and addition of fuel
rods in spent fuel pools appears to be at odds with these safety recommendations. Based
on these findings, I ask the NRC to initiate a rulemaking process to immediately require a
more rapid shift of spent fuel to dry casks.

[[[ Three is irrelevant UNLESS YOU GET RID OF THE SPENT FUEL POOLS TOO (and the reactors). Then sure, it MIGHT be easier to “contain” a dry cask fire by LETTING ONE BURN and HOPING THE NEXT ONE DOESN’T CATCH FIRE.  Then come back later and try to clean up the mess.  It MIGHT “work”. But it might not. And she’s still completely ignoring the fact that the accident she’s postulating as possible, has ALWAYS BEEN POSTULATED AS IMPOSSIBLE. We need to shut the reactors down forever. This is crazy! — Ace ]]]

The lesson from Japan’s disaster is that we must be prepared to respond to
unanticipated threats.

[[[ Not really. The real lesson is that the nuclear industry is UTTERLY UNPREPARED TO RESPOND TO REAL-WORLD EVENTS. And lies their teeth off.  And they put all our lives at grave risk because of these facts.  Those are the real lessons from Fukushima. — Ace ]]]

Therefore, any policy changes that further reduce risks of an
unsafe situation catching the industry off guard should be implemented. I look forward
to working with you further on this issue.
DF/mbn/ac
. Dianne Feinstein
Chairman
Subcommittee on Energy and Water
Development

 

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About acehoffman

Computer programmer, author, nuclear investigator, animator, videographer... acehoffman.org Also visit my YouTube Channel! http://www.youtube.com/user/AceHoffman or my business web site: http://www.animatedsoftware.com
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