Local nuke group going to regulatory meeting

  • Dry casks like these are used to store high-level radioactive waste fuel at Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant in Vernon, Vt. FILE PHOTO

Combined Sources
Published: 1/7/2019 8:15:05 PM

Brattleboro, Vt.-based New England Coalition on Nuclear Pollution will participate in this week’s Nuclear Regulatory Commission enforcement conference on design failures in radioactive-waste storage containers like those at Vermont Yankee and several other nuclear plants.

Wednesday’s conference at the federal regulator’s Bethesda, Md. headquarters follows its complaint against Holtec International for its adopted design of steel and concrete spent-fuel casks without federal approval.

NRC officials say the company made changes after discovering a loose “bolt” last March at the San Onofre nuclear power plant in California. The small threaded posts connect to the bottom of shims in the canister of the cask to create space between multiple aluminum shims and the bottom of the canister to keep the basket stabilized in each of the casks.

The nuclear watchdog group’s technical adviser, Raymond Shadis, along with and board member Clay Turnbull, plan to monitor and offer comments on the canisters.

The coalition twice intervened before Vermont’s public utilities commission on using the Holtec steel canister-in-a-concrete-cask design at the Vernon plant, where 58 spent-fuel casks are now in place awaiting eventual transfer to a federal repository. It says its involvement helped result in more frequent radiation and temperature reporting, more conservative cask spacing, a protective line-of-site barrier wall and prohibition of using corrosive de-icing salts.

The coalition, which has repeatedly advocated for partially buried cask or earthen berm protection for the shuttered Vermont plant’s spent fuel, also commented on a previous Holtec design change, which it says resulted in a more in-depth NRC staff safety analysis.

NRC spokesman Neil Sheehan said Holtec altered the cask design without a written evaluation, violating federal safety regulations.




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