While the media continues to entertain us with crime stories or pictures of England’s new prince, the United States is facing a growing nuclear crisis. Congress has delayed designating a storage facility for radioactive waste, and so power plants are keeping the spent rods in cooling tanks which are already beyond their capacities (“The Growing Threat of Nuclear Waste, by Seth Shulman, Catalyst, Summer 2013 pgs. 10-12.)
A case in point is a nuclear power plant 40 miles from New York City. The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) had authorized up to 264 spent fuel assemblies to be housed in the cooling tank there. At present, there are 1,218 assemblies being stored. According to researcher, Seth Shulman, “the more fuel a pool contains, the faster its water will boil away. Once exposed to air, the possibility exists for massive amounts of radiation to be released, posing a danger like the one at the Fukushima plant in Japan.” (Ibid, pg. 11)
Worse, while a nuclear reactor is surrounded by 6 to 9 inches of steel, the spent fuel tanks can be located outside the containment dome and housed in structures that aren’t reinforce. (Ibid, pg. 11) .
Fortunately, a solution exists if Congress chooses to act: a passive cooling method that employs dry casks. Japan changed to casks after Fukushima. If members the public made their elective representative know they are aware of the danger, it might bring about some action. The Union of Concerned Scientists is lobbying hard for the storage change. http://www.ucsusa.org/nuclear_power/. They need our help to raise awareness. Time is not on our side.
(Courtesy of www.nucleartourist.com)