High Level Radioactive Waste Storage
“People who live in the community surrounding a nuclear power plant regard their relationship with the company as a long term marriage. The company regards it as a series of one night stands. As soon as they are not making enough money they’re out of there.”
Arnie Gundersen, former nuclear industry and engineer with more than 44 years
of industry experience and currently CEO of Fairewinds.
All of the high level radioactive waste ever created at Indian Point is still on site. It should remain on site in dry casks to isolate it from the environment, people and property and dry casks can be monitored. It is undemocratic and immoral to force waste on unwilling host communities or struggling communities that are so desperate that they will accept the risk. The transportation of high level radioactive waste through the roads and highways, or the water channels, or railroad tracks in our cities and towns is inherently dangerous and must be avoided. Options to explore for on-site storage are Hardened On Site Storage and Rolling Stewardship. See: http://www.ccnr.org/Rolling_Stewardship.pdf
WHAT IS THE EXTENT OF THE PROBLEM?
The original design basis for the pools at each reactor was 264 fuel assemblies. The NRC raised that number and as of 2013 there were 1,374 fuel assemblies in the pool at Unit 2 and 1,345 in Unit 3 – a total of 2,719; more than 5 times the amount for which the pools were designed. The crowded pools far exceed design capacity and are hazardous. This does not include the additional 157 assemblies of high level radioactive fuel rods inside each reactor. This is the “hottest” radioactive material on site and it must remain in the spent fuel pool for at least five years. Older waste can be moved out of the pools and into dry cask storage as rapidly as possible where it can be isolated, better monitored and protected.
Each dry cask can accommodate 32 fuel assemblies and each cask costs over a million dollars. The Indian Point closing agreement calls for moving these assemblies into dry cask storage at the rate of four per year. Unless this rate is accelerated, the process will take sixty seven years, this is over the 60 years allowed to decommission the site, should Entergy remain in business that long. Who pays for all of this?
There is a decommissioning fund established with money from rate payers which the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says meets legal requirements. Rate payers no longer pay into this fund and neither does Entergy because of legal constraints that go back to when the reactors came on line. It is supposed cover the reactor, control room, and fuel pool. (One pool needs to remain for the process of moving assemblies into dry cask storage.) The fund has proved inadequate at other reactors that have been decommissioned and will most likely be inadequate for Indian Point. Indian Point presents some additional challenges because of numerous leaks and groundwater flow. It should be noted that the NRC is the lead agency only for those parts of the site mentioned above. It is not the lead agency for decommissioning any of the contaminated ground under the reactors or any of the other structures that may still have to be removed. A Citizens Advisory Committee needs to be established so that stakeholders have a voice in this lengthy and complicated process.
Contact the Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition: www.ipsecinfo.com, Phone: 888-474-8848, Facebook: IPSEC-Indian Point Safe Energy Coalition