Sunday, March 20, 2011

Here's Why Shutting Down Indian Point Will Keep Us Safer

How will shutting Indian Point down keep us safer? That's the question I asked earlier today, here.

Paul Gallay, Riverkeeper's executive director, responded promptly. It's a good answer, worth knowing. Here's what he wrote to me:

Closing the reactors will eliminate the possibility of core meltdown, which would reduce the risk of radiation release from Indian Point by roughly half.

Closing the reactors also would keep the issue of spent fuel storage at Indian Point from growing worse. Continued reactor operation, generating more and more spent fuel, would be an increasingly serious problem, as the spent fuel rods already are more tightly packed than they should be in the pools where they're stored. The fact that they are so tightly packed in these pools tremendously increases the risk of fire, should the pools become compromised.

Move the 1,500 tons of spent fuel currently stored at Indian Point out of these tightly-packed, leak-prone pools [located in a non-reinforced building] and into reinforced dry cask storage under earthen berms and you render it significantly less at risk for radioactive release due to exposure to the air or fire. We believe that this is feasible on site - roughly 10% of IP's spent fuel is stored on site in dry casks, but on a concrete pad which is not as good as beneath an earthen berm.

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