"HANDLING SPENT FUELS INVOLVES HUGE RISKS."
The Nuclear Regulation Authority in Japan has authorized TEPCO to move 1,300 spent fuel rods and 200 new fuel rods that are currently being stored in pools at the Fukushima Daiichi power facility.
In the Wall Street Journal article Mr. Shunichi Tanaka, chairman of the Nuclear Regulation Authority, stressed that the upmost care needs to be taken:
“Handling spent fuels involves huge risks. It would be a disaster if radioactive materials comes out of the metal rods during the work,” he said, noting that with the pool containing debris from the original explosion, the rods could be damaged as pulled out. “They must be handled one by one,” he said.We don't hear a lot about it but TEPO has been working with the United States's Department of Energy in their attempt to come up with correct and viable solutions to take in the decommission of this facility.
TEPCO representatives will be coming to Washington to meet with the DOE before proceeding with the next phase scheduled for the month.
In the U.S. four of the 104 nuclear power plants have been shut down. But the DOE has yet to develop a plan for the permanent storage of spent nuclear fuel. Hopefully there are lessons being learned in our efforts to assist Japan.
I hope we do not drag our feet in coming up with a solution and end up having to make a decision on what to do in pressure cooker environment. It really is a situation that cannot be ignored much longer as most of our own fleet of nuclear power facilities are operating beyond their original 40-year license period.
This article Uneven enforcement suspected at nuclear plants by AP national writer Jeff Donn points out further problems that occur with safety enforcements. It is very disconcerting when you read the "NRC cannot ensure that oversight efforts are objective and consistent" if there is one thing we should demand from the Nuclear Regulatory Commission it would be exactly that; objective and consistent oversight efforts.
And when the nuclear industry voices concern about the inconsistencies we should be very concerned as well. There is so much that needs to be and very little time to make sure it is done properly.