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Info on used nuclear fuel pools


Date: Sat, 4 Sep 1999 17:55:56 -0700 (PDT)
From: (Options 2000)


Hi Tom,

We're working full time on this issue now...making sure that the nuclear
facilities are properly dealt with re Y2K. And, not only is the seven day
fuel supply an issue, but the fact that the backup diesel generators are
frequently having problems, and have never been able to run very long.

Another aspect of the problem which is even more hair raising, is the
cooling of the used fuel pools, which are right next to the reactor core
room. These pools contain, on average, five times as much radiation as the
reactor core, have no containment, yet HAVE NO BACKUP POWER GENERATION AT
ALL! This means, if the grid goes down and the water in these pools is not
cooled, these fuel rods could boil the water off, causing a huge radioactive
steam plume, and then meltdown. The heat would be intense enough to do
this, depending on how recently the particular reactor had refueled, from
within a few hours, to a few weeks.

The reactors were originally designed thinking that the used fuel rods
would be removed from the site and reprocessed. However, since the process
to do that was so dangerous and created so much waste, it was abandoned in
this country. Now, the nuclear reactor sites themselves are the
repositories for the waste, which are kept in the pools. It takes five
years to cool the rods sufficiently to be able to take them out of the water
and then house in dry storage, which is another huge unsolved problem.

Diablo Canyon, in San Luis Obispo, is one of the 26 reactor sites which are
refueling right before the new year (October). This means we'll be close to
one of the more hazardous reactors.

Another fact which everyone should know is the Nuclear Regulatory Commission
(NRC) is suspending the normal safety regulations for reactor operation,
ESPECIALLY FOR Y2K! The regulations requiring the reactor to be shut down
if the safety systems are not operating are being lifted.

Mary Beth Brangan
Jim Heddle