Scientists say nuclear fuel pools around the country pose safety and health risks (May 2016)

The Fukushima nuclear catastrophe could have been far worse, it turns out, and experts say neither the nuclear industry nor its regulators are doing enough to prevent a calamitous nuclear fuel fire in America

Ninety-six above ground, aquamarine pools around the country that hold the nuclear industry’s spent reactor fuel may not be as safe as U.S. regulators and the nuclear industry have publicly asserted, a study released May 20 by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine warned.

Citing a little-noticed study by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Academies said that if an accident or an act of terrorism at a densely-filled pool caused a leak that drains the water away from the rods, a cataclysmic release of long-lasting radiation could force the extended evacuation of nearly 3.5 million people from territory larger than the state of New Jersey. It could also cause thousands of cancer deaths from excess radiation exposure, and as much as $700 billion dollars in costs to the national economy.

Until an earthquake and a tsunami pummeled Japan’s Fukushima Daiichi power plant in Japan on March 11, 2011, the possibility of such a catastrophe in the more than 30 states where nuclear fuel sits in radioactive pools seemed almost unthinkable. But the Academies’ new report – their second and final study of that event – says that the operators of U.S. nuclear plants and the commission that regulates them haven’t fully grasped all the safety risks and as a result may be exposing the public to unwarranted dangers.

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Published by the Center for Public Integrity, 20 May 2016, https://www.publicintegrity.org/2016/05/20/19712/scientists-say-nuclear-fuel-pools-around-country-pose-safety-and-health-risks

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