Seeking to allay fears over nuclear safety sparked by failures in Japan’s plants, the Pilgrim Nuclear Generating Station in Plymouth, MA, will begin storing its nuclear waste in hardened dry containers.
In Japan following the massive March 11 earthquake and tsunami that damaged several of the country’s nuclear power plants, the greatest source of radiation danger has come from the storage of used fuel in pools of water inside the facilities. When the plants’ water coolant system failed, the used fuel grew hot, and radiation escaped though the plants’ outer shell.
Pilgrim spokeswoman Carol Wightman provided some details on initial dry-cask storage plans. “We will begin moving to dry-cask storage in 2014, with the first three casks,’’ Wightman said. “Sixty-eight used fuel bundles per cask, for a total of 204 fuel bundles,’’ will move over at that time. The move “requires a very long lead time.’’
The nuclear power industry has repeatedly complained it must store nuclear waste on site because of the failure of the federal government to deliver on its promise to provide a single national waste site. “We have no desire to store spent fuel in our plants,’’ Wightman said.