The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is responsible for all “policies and regulations governing nuclear reactor and materials safety.
Within the confines of these aging nuclear facilities, there are a total of ninety cooling pools filled with densely packed spent fuel rods. Every one of these run the risk of “a crippling radioactive release and fire.”
The number of nuclear fuel rods in these cooling pools has been increasing, because “no permanent repository for spent fuel exists in the United States.”
There are several hundred tons of spent nuclear fuel in each of these ninety cooling pools. Because these pools are located in a “secondary containment of the reactor,” the stored radioactive material is more vulnerable to natural disasters and terrorist attacks.
But when the NRC crafted their action plan as a response to Fukushima, they ignored these potentials. Additionally researchers at Princeton University and UCS have published a paper in Science Magazine claiming the NRC used a “flawed analysis to justify inaction, leaving millions of Americans at risk of a radiological release.”
The NRC made no recommendations for existing nuclear facilities to transfer spent fuel rods into dry casks, which would reduce the chance of fire by 99 percent. Rods could be moved at a cost of $50 million, but the NRC claimed it’s not worth the cost.
Additionally, they surmised that if a spent pool fire did break out, which they believe is highly unlikely, the radioactive contamination wouldn’t travel over fifty miles, any environmental clean up would take only a year and the total damages would cost $125 billion. They can’t be serious. Is the NRC even monitoring what is still going on with the spent fuel rods in Fukushima?
When the UCS and Princeton researchers did the numbers they were much more realistic. They hypothesized about a radioactive fire at the “high density spent fuel pool at the Peach Bottom Nuclear Power Plant in Pennsylvania.”
In their projections, “four major cities would be contaminated (New York City, Philadelphia, Baltimore and Washington, D.C.), resulting in the displacement of millions of people.” The price tag would be $2 trillion.
Government propaganda vs scientists who seek the truth.
The NRC has been pressured by the nuclear industry, directly and through Congress, to low-ball the potential consequences of a fire because of concerns that increased costs could result in shutting down more nuclear power plants. Unfortunately, if there is no public outcry about this dangerous situation, the NRC will continue to bend to the industry’s wishes.
The ongoing environmental catastrophe emanating from the Fukushima disaster is devastating, but for the nuclear industry, it’s business as usual. In fact, thanks to the NRC, the U.S. is expecting that “four more [nuclear] units will come online by 2021.”