Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff that such a step is already under consideration.
CHARGE 2: SAFETY AND SECURITY ADVANTAGES, IF ANY, OF DRY CASK STORAGE VERSUS WET POOL STORAGE
FINDING 4C: Dry cask storage does not eliminate the need for pool storage at operating commercial reactors. Under present U.S. practices, dry cask storage can only be used to store fuel that has been out of the reactor long enough (generally greater than five years under current practices) to be passively air cooled.
FINDING 4D: Dry cask storage for older, cooler spent fuel has two inherent advantages over pool storage: (1) It is a passive system that relies on natural air circulation for cooling; and (2) it divides the inventory of that spent fuel among a large number of discrete, robust containers. These factors make it more difficult to attack a large amount of spent fuel at one time and also reduce the consequences of such attacks. The robust construction of these casks prevents large-scale releases of radioactivity in all of the attack scenarios examined by the committee in its classified report.
FINDING 4E: Depending on the outcome of plant-specific vulnerability analyses described in the committee’s classified report, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission might determine that earlier movements of spent fuel from pools into dry cask storage would be prudent to reduce the potential consequences of terrorist attacks on pools at some commercial nuclear plants. The statement of task directs the committee to examine the risks of spent fuel storage options and alternatives for decision makers, not to recommend whether any spent fuel should be transferred from pool storage to cask storage. In fact, there may be some commercial plants that, because of pool designs or fuel loadings, may require some removal of spent fuel from their pools. If there is a need to remove spent fuel from the pools it should become clearer once the vulnerability and consequence analyses described in the classified report are completed. The committee expects that cost-benefit considerations would be a part of these analyses.
Implementation of the recommendations in Chapters 2–4 will require action and cooperation by a large number of parties. The final chapter of the report provides a brief discussion of two implementation issues that the committee believes are of special interest to Congress: Timing Issues: Ensuring that high-quality, expert analyses are completed in a timely manner; and Communications Issues: Ensuring that the results of the analyses are communicated to relevant parties so that appropriate and timely mitigating actions can be taken. This discussion leads to the following finding and recommendation.
FINDING 5A: Security restrictions on sharing of information and analyses are hindering progress in addressing potential vulnerabilities of spent fuel storage to
terrorist attacks. Current classification and security practices appear to discourage information sharing between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and industry. They impede the review and feedback processes that can enhance the technical soundness of the analyses being carried out; they make it difficult to build support within the industry for potential mitigative measures; and they may undermine the confidence that the industry, expert panels such as this one, and the public place in the adequacy of such measures.
RECOMMENDATION: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission should improve the sharing of pertinent information on vulnerability and consequence analyses of spent fuel storage with nuclear power plant operators and dry cask storage system vendors on a timely basis.
The committee also believes that the public is an important audience for the work being carried out to assess and mitigate vulnerabilities of spent fuel storage facilities. While it would be inappropriate to share all information publicly, more constructive interaction with the public and independent analysts could improve the work being carried out and also increase public confidence in Nuclear Regulatory Commission and industry decisions and actions to reduce the vulnerability of spent fuel storage to terrorist threats.