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Suggested Citation:"5.3 FINDING AND RECOMMENDATION." National Research Council. 2006. Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage: Public Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11263.
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Commission’s vulnerability analyses to ensure that effective implementation strategies are adopted.

The committee also received complaints during this study from members of the public about the lack of information sharing. Commission staff have responded to these complaints by stating that such sharing could reveal sensitive information to terrorists and that the public does not have a “need to know” this information.

The committee fully agrees that information that could prove useful to terrorists should not be released. On the other hand, the committee believes that there is information that could be shared without compromising national security. For example, general information about the kinds of threats being considered and general steps being taken to reduce vulnerabilities could be shared with the public. Information about specific vulnerabilities of spent fuel pools and dry storage casks to terrorist attacks as well as potential mitigative actions could be shared with industry without revealing the details about how such attacks might be carried out. Sharing information with industry is essential for ensuring that mitigative actions to reduce vulnerabilities are carried out. Sharing information with the public is essential in a nation with strong democratic traditions for sustaining public confidence in the Commission as an effective regulator of the nuclear industry, and for reducing the potential for severe environmental, health, economic, and psychological consequences from terrorist attacks should they occur.

5.3 FINDING AND RECOMMENDATION

FINDING 5A: Security restrictions on sharing of information and analyses are hindering progress in addressing potential vulnerabilities of spent fuel storage to terrorist attacks.


Current classification and security practices appear to discourage information sharing between the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and industry. During the course of the study the committee received comments from power plant operators, their contractors, and Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff about the difficulties of sharing the information on the vulnerability of spent fuel storage. Indeed, even the committee found it difficult and in some cases impossible to obtain needed information (e.g., information on the design basis threat). Such restrictions have several negative consequences: They Impede the review and feedback processes that can enhance the technical soundness of the analyses being carried out; they make it difficult to build support within the industry for potential mitigative measures; and they may undermine the confidence that the industry, expert panels such as this one, and the public place in the adequacy of such measures.

RECOMMENDATION: The Nuclear Regulatory Commission should improve the sharing of pertinent information on vulnerability and consequence analyses of spent fuel storage with nuclear power plant operators and dry cask storage system vendors on a timely basis.

Implementation of this recommendation will allow timely mitigation actions. Certain current security practices may have to be modified to carry out this recommendation.

Suggested Citation:"5.3 FINDING AND RECOMMENDATION." National Research Council. 2006. Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage: Public Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11263.
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The committee also believes that the public is an important audience for the work being carried out to assess and mitigate vulnerabilities of spent fuel storage facilities. While it would be inappropriate to share all information publicly, more constructive interaction with the public and independent analysts could improve the work being carried out and also increase public confidence in Nuclear Regulatory Commission and industry decisions and actions to reduce the vulnerability of spent fuel storage to terrorist threats.

Suggested Citation:"5.3 FINDING AND RECOMMENDATION." National Research Council. 2006. Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage: Public Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11263.
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Page 77
Suggested Citation:"5.3 FINDING AND RECOMMENDATION." National Research Council. 2006. Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage: Public Report. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press. doi: 10.17226/11263.
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Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage: Public Report Get This Book
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In response to a request from Congress, the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Department of Homeland Security sponsored a National Academies study to assess the safety and security risks of spent nuclear fuel stored in cooling pools and dry casks at commercial nuclear power plants. The information provided in this book examines the risks of terrorist attacks using these materials for a radiological dispersal device. Safety and Security of Commercial Spent Nuclear Fuel is an unclassified public summary of a more detailed classified book. The book finds that successful terrorist attacks on spent fuel pools, though difficult, are possible. A propagating fire in a pool could release large amounts of radioactive material, but rearranging spent fuel in the pool during storage and providing emergency water spray systems would reduce the likelihood of a propagating fire even under severe damage conditions. The book suggests that additional studies are needed to better understand these risks. Although dry casks have advantages over cooling pools, pools are necessary at all operating nuclear power plants to store at least the recently discharged fuel. The book explains it would be difficult for terrorists to steal enough spent fuel to construct a significant radiological dispersal device.

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