BOX 1.1

The issues to be addressed by this study are specified in the Energy and Water Development Conference Report and are as follows:

  1. Potential safety and security risks of spent nuclear fuel presently stored in cooling pools at commercial reactor sites (see Chapter 3).

  2. Safety and security advantages, if any, of dry cask storage versus wet pool storage at these reactor sites (see Chapter 4).

  3. Potential safety and security advantages, if any, of dry cask storage using various single-, dual-, and multi-purpose cask designs (see Chapter 4).

  4. In light of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, this study will explicitly consider the risks of terrorist attacks on these materials and the risk these materials might be used to construct a radiological dispersal device (see Chapter 2),

that the remaining younger fuel be rearranged in the pool to allow more space for cooling (see also Marsh and Stanford, 2001; Thompson, 2003). The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff, the nuclear industry, and some others have argued that densely packed pool storage can be carried out both safely and securely (USNRC, 2003a).

Policy actions to improve the safety and security of spent fuel storage could have significant national consequences. Nuclear power plants generate approximately 20 percent of the electricity produced in the United States. The issue of its future availability and use is critical to our nation’s present and future energy security. The safety and security of spent fuel storage is an Important aspect of the acceptability of nuclear power. Decisions that affect such a large portion of our nation’s electricity supply must be considered carefully, wisely, and with a balanced view.


Congress directed the National Academies to produce a classified report that addresses the statement of task shown in Box 1.1 within 6 months and an unclassified summary for unlimited public dissemination within 12 months. This report, which has undergone a security review by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and found to contain no classified national security or safeguards information, fulfills the second request.4

The National Research Council of the National Academies appointed a committee of 15 experts to carry out this study. Biographical sketches of the committee members are provided in Appendix B. The committee met six times from February to June 2004 to gather information and complete its classified report. The committee met again in August, October, and November 2004 and in January 2005 to develop this public report.

Details on the information-gathering sessions and speakers are provided in Appendix A. Most of the information-gathering sessions were not open to the public because they involved presentations and discussions of classified information. The committee recognized, however, that important contributions to this study could be made by industry representatives, independent analysts, and the public, so it scheduled open, unclassified


The classified report was briefed to the agencies and Congress on July 15, 2004,

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