- A new report from the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine finds the United States' nuclear industry has implemented several suggestions aimed at securing spent fuel, but says facilities can do more to guard against potential terror attacks, Bloomberg reports.
- The Congressionally-mandated report is one of two following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi nuclear accident in Japan. The NAS said many of its first recommendations on spent fuel safety have already been implemented.
- Two recommendations have yet to be carried out, however, including the NAS suggestion that facilities "carry out an independent examination of surveillance and security measures for protecting stored spent fuel."
The National Academies of Sciences' new report on the safety of the U.S. nuclear industry finds several previous recommendations have been implemented, but seemed to indicate facilities are at risk from possible terror attacks, especially those which might coincide with other events.
The 2011 nuclear accident in Japan "should serve as a wake-up call to nuclear plant operators and regulators on the critical importance of measuring, maintaining, and restoring cooling in spent fuel pools during severe accidents and terrorist attacks," NAS said in a statement.
According to the report, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has implemented "most" of the recommendations from previous Academies reports on spent fuel safety and security. However, "two recommendations from those reports have not yet been implemented," the group said.
The first unheeded warning was for the industry to analyze the vulnerabilities of spent fuel pools to specific terrorist attack scenarios described in a report published in 2004. The second was to carry out an independent examination of surveillance and security measures for protecting stored spent fuel.
"This independent examination should address the effectiveness of the USNRC’s security and surveillance measures for addressing the insider threat," NAS said. "It also recommended that the USNRC and nuclear industry strengthen their capabilities for identifying, evaluating, and managing the risks from terrorist attacks and that the USNRC sponsor a spent fuel storage security risk assessment of sufficient scope and depth to explore the benefits of this methodology for enhancing security at U.S. nuclear plants."
NAS' first report, issued last year, recommended that the nuclear industry improve the ability of plant operators to measure real-time conditions in spent fuel pools, as well as maintaining adequate cooling of stored spent fuel during severe accidents and terrorist attacks.
"These improvements should go beyond the current, post-Fukushima response to include hardened and redundant physical surveillance systems such as cameras, radiation monitors, pool temperature and water-level monitors, and means to deliver makeup water or sprays to the pools, even when physical access is limited by facility damage or high radiation levels," NAS said, also noting, "the committee determined that the USNRC has implemented most of the recommendations from previous Academies reports on spent fuel safety and security."
Nuclear plant operators have shelled out $4 billion on safety enhancements post-Fukushima, according to trade group Nuclear Energy Institute.