Spent Nuclear Fuel Pools Are Full

image: nrc.gov

Commercial ‘Spent Nuclear Fuel’ is composed of metal assemblies about 12’-15’ long. The fuel assemblies, after being in the reactor for 3 to 6 years, are stored underwater in ‘Spent Fuel Pools’ for 10 to 20 years before being sent for reprocessing or dry cask storage.

Of the 104 operating nuclear power plants in the United States, most spent nuclear fuel rods are kept onsite in Spent Fuel Pools.

The problem is, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that many of the nuclear power plants in the United States will be out of room in their spent fuel pools by 2015!

So what have they been doing?

They’ve been packing the spent fuel rods much more densely (in the spent fuel pools) than previously allowed.

Approximately one-quarter to one-third of the nuclear fuel load of a reactor is removed from the core every 12 to 24 months and replaced with fresh fuel.

Existing reactors generate about 2,000 tons per year – and this spent nuclear fuel has to go somewhere…

The thing is, there’s barely any room left – especially since the Obama administration terminated the Yucca Mountain nuclear waste repository in 2009.

Without expressing opinion one way or the other (regarding Yucca Mountain or ‘nuclear energy’), the fact remains that we have more than 100 nuclear power plants operating in the United States, right now, and there seems to be increasing risks surrounding spent nuclear fuel storage pools – most of which are jammed full of spent nuclear fuel rods.

When systems are forced to do more than they were designed to do — there are risks.

This is why I’m posting this on a ‘preparedness’ website.

Not only are these spent nuclear fuel pools ‘terrorist targets’, but there’s always the possibility of an unforeseen breakdown leading to catastrophe. If there is an interruption of cooling due to emergency situations, the water in the spent fuel pools may boil off, which would likely result in radioactive elements being released into the atmosphere.

Here are the locations of the nuclear waste locations in the United States, including spent nuclear fuel pools.

This image is a work of a United States Department of Energy (or predecessor organization) employee, taken or made as part of that person’s official duties. As a work of the U.S. federal government, the image is in the public domain.

With more than 67,000 metric tons of commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel being stored at 77 sites in 35 states, and while SNF storage at reactors was intended to be temporary, pending disposal, No nation operates a disposal site for SNF.

Spent Nuclear Fuel storage is expected to be needed for more than 100 years, given the current status of operational nuclear power plants.

By the way, U.S. nuclear plants use the same sort of fuel pools to cool spent nuclear-fuel rods as those at Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi plant, only the U.S. pools hold much more nuclear material – apparently about 10 times as much

Nuclear Fuel Assembly:

Spent Nuclear Fuel Pool

Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Pool Location


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  1. Nothing to worry about. We will just store them in the Carlsbad Cavern extension call WIPP. Whats that……..it blew up a few months ago and may still be on fire. Hmmmmm………

    Ok, lets just drop them in the Pacific. All the radiation from Fuku will hide the footprint. Whats that…….all the marine life on the US/Cn coasts are dying. Hmmmm……….

    No sweat. Lets just hire the Russians to use their heavy lift rockets to shoot them……whats that……..our psychopathic/sociopathic politicians are trying to get us into a war with Russia? Hmmmmm………..

    I guess none of it matters after all. Back to the NFL pregame shows……

  2. you didn’t mention the fact that nuclear plants are only required to store enough diesel fuel to keep their generators running for ONE WEEK if the power goes out. after the electric pumps stop circulating water, it’s fukishima. and no one knows how to stop the meltdown process once it starts–ask the japanese; after 2 ½ years, their meltdown is still going on. if we have a power outage for more than a week, we just have to hope that a constant supply of fuel can be delivered to every nuclear plant that’s without power for as long as it takes. and since our electrical grid is probably the most vulnerable part of our infrastructure, and our roads etc are a close second–well, those of us who are downwind or share a body of water with even one plant can only pray. does anyone really believe that this system is BETTER than solar, wind, tidal and other power sources that are INCAPABLE of destroying our ecosystem? anyone?

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