Thursday, April 08, 2010

Why is Nuke Bad News in Miami Herald Business Section? by Geniusofdespair

Turkey Point has been cited for the safety of its spent fuel storage by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Miami Herald puts it in the Business Section in the newspaper. Miami Herald: This belongs on the front page. According to the Herald:

Used nuclear fuel has been building up at Turkey Point for the 35 years of its operation.

The degradation involves systems intended to cram more spent fuel into the pools, according to Lawrence King, a former NRC inspector.

More than two million pounds of waste now sit at the South Miami-Dade site in pools of water -- although Florida Power & Light spokesman Michael Waldron says it's more accurate to think of the spent rods as occupying a 16-foot cube if bunched together.

Yes, Mr. Waldron, we aren't stupid. We know in nuclear, when we are talking spatially, a little is a lot.


Anonymous said...

More pro nuke people read the business section. It does seem like an odd place to put this information.

David said...

Th NRC cites degradation of Boroflex being of concern. Spent fuel pits are like an office mailbox laid flat and placed underwater. Each "box" contains a spent fuel assembly which is made up of a matrix of fuel rods. Specific geometry is required in the pit to obviate a criticality event. In addition, the water in the spent fuel pit is borated. The federal government has a contract to reprocess fuel from commercial reactors, which it has defaulted on. This is the subject of a lawsuit by the utilities and the DOE. Yucca Mountain is being constructed to store high level waste (including fuel). As spent fuel pit capacities would not be adequate based on the government's broken promise to reprocess fuel (as they do in France), the need for expanding the capacity of existing spent fuel pits became necessary. Most plants re-racked their spent fuel pits (including Turkey Point), adding additional cells. This would necessitate fuel assemblies being closer together, rendering initial critical mass and geometry calculations null and void. The answer is boroflex coupons; a metal containing boron which absorbs neutrons. These coupons line the inside of the "mailboxes" the fuel is stored in. If they are degrading they must be repaired or replaced to ensure subcriticality is maintained. The conservativeness of the critical mass and geometry calculations should give no cause for immediate alarm and boron concentration in the water of the spent fuel pit can always be increased to counteract any positive reactivity introduced by the degradation of the Boroflex. In the long run, above ground storage on-site is the best intermediate solution until Yucca Mountain opens, or reprocessing (also a recent subject of this blog) is finally decided as the best option.

Anonymous said...

Dave knows his stuff, but I think the underlying issue isn't the physical composition of the pool, but the attitude of the Utility.

They've known for years about the issue and haven't paid it the attention the NRC expected. To get a letter from the NRC like this is a big deal. They aren't exactly known for over the top language, so this is indeed an eye opener.

It seems the NRC is starting to sweat a bit about the time wasted to date and the limited space remaining in the pool.

Makes for a great case to generate more waste faster by ramping up the power output doesn't it?

Geniusofdespair said...

Who are we kidding, do we even know what Dave is talking about? We don't know if he knows anything -- he could be bull-shitting us. I don't take comments as truth...might be... but buyer beware.

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Dave, how about repeating that in layments four sentences or less.