Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Can spent nuclear fuel be transported safely in America with the current procedures and standards? No!

Can spent nuclear fuel be transported safely in America with the current procedures and standards? No!

September 29, 2020

The nuclear industry believes they can just put even a cracked-and-leaking canister into a transportation outer-pack and off it goes... but:

One only needs to look at our transportation infrastructure to know that spent fuel transport is a crap shoot.

When the Mianus River Bridge in Connecticut collapsed in 1983, killing three people, including a tractor-trailer driver, I was traveling over that bridge twice a day.  I HEARD the screeching of the huge metal pin that eventually failed. I even followed the truck that was next to me the moment I heard the screech to determine if it was the truck I had heard -- or the bridge. I followed it for at least two miles. I saw that truck drive over numerous bumps and potholes in the poorly-maintained I-95 Interstate and it never screeched again. This made me absolutely sure it was the bridge I had heard. A few days or maybe a week later it collapsed. It turned out dozens of local residents had heard it screech repeatedly and complained to CT-DOT, to no avail. CT-DOT did not come out and inspect the bridge, which would have immediately shut down the bridge and saved those lives and millions of dollars in damage.

I was already opposed to nuclear power. I had, for example, created a comedy routine called Three Mile Island Beatles in 1979, which aired nationally on Pacifica stations and on the Dr. Demento show:

I did NOT call CT-DOT about the bridge. I think that's what turned me from merely complaining/explaining to the public about problems to complaining to the government directly about problems (so far, to no avail). I probably have attended more NRC hearings about San Onofre over the past 30 years than anyone else...

And then there's the Baltimore Tunnel fire in 2001. Time-at-Temperatures far exceeded anything the spent fuel canisters could have survived. When I mentioned this to Nuclear Regulatory Commission officials they assured me that chemical and fuel trains would not be allowed to be passing the spent fuel trains. This was a made-up baloney excuse off the top of the guy's head at the time. They do that all the time.

Then there was the collapse of the I-35 West bridge in Minnesota in 2007, which killed 13 people and injured 145. A rail line ran below the bridge portion that collapsed; any spent fuel that would have been traveling on that rail line at the time would have been crushed like an egg under an anvil. Any traveling on the bridge would have fallen farther than NRC regulations assume is possible.

If you look at the actual standards that spent fuel casks are expected to meet for drop survivability, crush survivability, fire survivability, etc. it will be obvious these are way too lax (sorry, I haven't actually seen them in many years, but I haven't heard they've been made significantly stronger).

That famous video of a jet plane crashing into one? It was just a fighter jet, and my understanding is that the engine was removed! (this means the turbine shaft -- the part most likely to penetrate a dry cask -- was not there). It wasn't a 747 loaded with fuel, with four enormous turbine shafts.  It wasn't traveling nearly as fast as a crashing jet would be going. And it wasn't a terrorist with a weapon that can penetrate 8 inches of steel or a dozen feet of concrete (such weapons exist and can be obtained by terrorist groups fairly easily).

Their tests are inadequate, their claims are false, their "perfect record" is irrelevant.

Thank you for attending my Ted Rant.

Ace Hoffman
Carlsbad, CA


From: Donna Gilmore 
Sent: Wednesday, September 30, 2020, 08:09:33 AM PDT

Ace, the NRC approved transport specs have gotten even worse.  Heavier loads with more and hotter fuel assemblies are being approved.  

The NRC refuses to reveal the thickness of the lead layer in the Holtec high burnup transport casks. 

Information on handling high burnup fuel is labeled "proprietary" in the Areva high burnup transport cask used for transporting thin-wall canisters.  

No inspection is required of the condition of the thin-wall canister or the canister contents before transport in spite of the NRC knowing high burnup fuel and other fuel can degrade during dry storage. The NRC admits it doesn't know if normal train vibrations will cause high burnup fuel rods to fail. 

They have no plan to prevent failure or deal with the consequences of failure. They refer to this as "out of scope" to avoid discussing this in various proceedings. 

The proposed CIS plans (in New Mexico and Texas) are to return leaking canisters back to sender. The NRC is ignoring this problem. 

By the NRC approving uninspectable welded shut thin-wall canisters and allowing zirconium clad high burnup fuel, they've created a perfect storm for failure in both storage and transport. 

All thin-wall canisters must be replaced with proven thick-wall casks designed for both storage and transport. There are no other short-term options. 

And no long term options exist -- despite the unsubstantiated hope for a geological repository being perpetuated as a solution. 

We cannot kick this can down the road any longer. We are nearing the end of this road. 

Donna Gilmore


No comments:

Post a Comment

Comments should be in good taste and include the commentator's full name and affiliation.