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U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission Investigates Lost Spent Fuel From U.S. Power Plant

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission said last week that it is investigating the disappearance of two spent nuclear fuel rod segments from a nuclear power plant in Vermont (see GSN, June 4).

The NRC disclosed details of its investigation in a letter sent June 24 to U.S. Representative Edward Markey (D-Mass.). According to the commission, in mid-April the operator of the Vermont Yankee nuclear plant reported that two spent fuel rod segments were missing from the plant’s spent fuel pool. In May, the plant operator conducted a second underwater inspection of the plant’s spent fuel pool, but still failed to finding the missing spent fuel pieces, the commission said.

As part of its own investigation into the incident, the NRC said that it would review the efforts by plant operator Entergy to locate the missing spent fuel pieces and determine whether Entergy is in full compliance with applicable regualtions. While noting that it is “premature” to speculate on the fate of the missing spent fuel pieces, the commission also said that it was “highly unlikely that the material in the public domain.” 

In a press statement yesterday, though, Markey criticized the NRC for failing to find the missing radioactive material.

“The NRC says it has no idea where the spent nuclear fuel is, but insists that it is safe, wherever it is. This sounds like a faith-based approach to nuclear security to me,” Markey said in a press statement. “It is time for the NRC to crack down on those responsible for these materials, implement new security regulations and impose high penalties for those who don’t comply,” he added (see GSN, June 27, 2002; U.S. Representative Edward Markey release, June 28).




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