U.S. at risk from used nuclear fuel -report

Wed May 25, 2011 12:27am GMT

* U.S. has large concentration of radioactive spent fuel

* Spent fuel danger "no longer abstract issue" after Japan

HOUSTON May 24 (Reuters) - Japan's Fukushima nuclear disaster has revived a long-simmering dispute about the danger of storing used nuclear fuel at U.S. plants in facilities never designed for long-term storage, an industry critic said on Tuesday.

A report from the Institute for Policy Studies issued Tuesday said the threat of radiation from an accident at a spent nuclear fuel pool could be catastrophic. Spent fuel at many U.S. plants exceeds that stored at the four damaged units at the Fukushima Daiichi plant, said Robert Alvarez, the report's author, who also warned about the vulnerability of spent fuel in 2003.

"We have to stop deluding ourselves into thinking jamming too much spent fuel into pools is a wise idea," Alvarez said on a call with reporters.

"It may save money, but it may not be a wise think to do if something serious goes wrong as we have seen at Fukushima," said Alvarez.

Earlier this month, a federal panel recommended that the country should develop temporary storage facilities for radioactive waste until a permanent burial site can be developed. [ID:nN13248241]

U.S. reactors have generated 65,000 metric tons of spent fuel, mostly held in fuel pools, according to a nuclear industry trade organization.

"No other nation has generated this much radioactivity from either nuclear power or nuclear weapons production," the report said.   Continued...

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