There is no available off-site storage for spent fuel rods
Most people will never get a chance to stare down at nuclear fuel rods submerged in the eerie blue water of a spent fuel pool.
For Peach Bottom Atomic Power Station employees, however, working near tens of thousands of used fuel rods — still lethally radioactive — is business as usual.
Some of those rods have been in the fuel pool since 1976, according to Krista Connelly, spokeswoman for the southern York County power plant.
But with nowhere off-site to store the fuel, Connelly said Peach Bottom is running out of places to put it.
“In its current configuration, Peach Bottom has enough storage space in its existing spent fuel pools and its dry cask storage facility to accommodate normal refueling operations until 2019,” Connelly said.
In addition to posing problems for power plants, the Union of Concerned Scientists say the lack of a national storage site also poses safety risks, while a few business owners are proposing solutions to the growing storage problem.
Nuclear Waste Policy Act
When Peach Bottom’s two boiling-water reactors went online in 1974, the industry hadn’t developed a plan for where to put the high-level radioactive waste.
Everett Redmond, director of fuel cycle and technology policy at the Nuclear Energy Institute, said fuel stored in the pools is just as safe as fuel stored in casks. Sheehan also said that “both methods are considered to be safe.”
The Union of Concerned Scientists would like to see more fuel moved to the casks, however, a step they say will decrease risk.
Dave Lochbaum, the director of the Union’s nuclear safety project, said that the 2011 Fukushima disaster proved the advantages of dry cask storage compared to spent fuel pools.
Read more at Peach Bottom nuclear power plant could run out of spent fuel storage space in 2019