Radiological Terrorism: Sabotage of Spent Fuel Pools

NOTE FROM JEFF: I will be reporting on this kind of scenario in
greater depth in my soon-to-be-posted article on “geo-terrorism”, but
for now realize that IF the Japan quake was in fact an act of “geo-
terrorism” using HAARP and related technologies, the forces involved
would certainly have been acutely aware of exactly what they were
attempting to set in motion. This kind of thing has been in the
works for decades, with blue-prints being drawn by highly
influential minds like Gordon J.F. MacDonald and Zbigniew Brzezinski.
If this is in fact the case, what we are witnessing now is ONLY THE
BEGINNING of an accelerating “full spectrum dominance” attack on a
planetary scale. If we know what to look for, we might be able to
predict their next move. Note that from an ‘enviromental warfare’
platform, the Japan quake scenario is not dissimilar to the BP oil
disaster in the Gulf last year. One was overtly an “industrial
accident”, the other a “natural disaster.” Both occurred at
facilities which are strategically located within or at the origin of
major oceanic or atmospheric conveyors, the Gulf and Jet-streams.
This guarantees maximum distribution of the toxic substances
released. The Japan thing could be a message for China, as well. In
ths same way that 9/11 was the “new Pearl Harbour”, this Japanese
quake scenario might be the “new Hiroshima.”
“Radiological Terrorism: Sabotage of Spent Fuel Pools”

Journal Article, INESAP: International Network of Engineers and
Scientists Against Proliferation, issue 22, pages 75-78

December 2003

Author: Hui Zhang, Senior Research Associate, Project on Managing the

Belfer Center Programs or Projects: International Security; Managing
the Atom; Science, Technology, and Public Policy

Radiological Terrorism: Sabotage of Spent Fuel Pool

Hui Zhang

The September 11 large-scale terrorist attacks on the World Trade
Center and the Pentagon show the threat of nuclear and radiological
terrorism is real. A successful attack or sabotage on a nuclear
facility could cause the most potentially devastating radiological
release into the atmosphere. While many people focus their concerns
on the vulnerability of reactor containment buildings, an increasing
number of nuclear experts are concerned about the spent fuel pools
(SFP) which would be more vulnerable than the reactor containment
building, because most SFPs are housed in far less robust structures
than the reactor containment vessels. Moreover, a SFP would contain
much more radiation than a reactor core. [1] In particular, one major
concern is the vulnerability of the pools’ cooling systems. In
absence of cooling water, the spent fuel would overheat, and the fuel-
cladding could melt or catch fire in some cases. Thus it could
release radioactive substances to the environment.

In fact, a number of countries are taking spent nuclear fuel
vulnerabilities very seriously. For example, France has installed
anti-aircraft missiles around its spent fuel ponds at its
reprocessing facility. However, some scholars and experts argue that
these nuclear facilities could not be vulnerable to terrorist attacks.

Risk of Spent Nuclear Fuel at Reactor Pools

In this paper, I will explain the potential consequences of the
sabotage of spent fuel pools and the vulnerabilities of these pools
to terrorist attacks. Finally, I will suggest some security measures
to protect these spent fuel facilities.

Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel

Each year, a typical 1 GWe light water reactor (LWR) discharges about
20 to 30 metric tonnes of heavy metal (tHM) in spent nuclear fuel
(SNF). The SNF is very radioactive. Typically, each tonne SNF would
emit above 200 million curies of activity at the time of reactor
shutdown [2]. Thus, the SNF is very hot. For example, one day after
shutdown, 30 t LWR spent fuel has a thermal output of about 6 MW. [3]
To prevent the spent fuel from melting, once discharged from the
reactor, it is placed on storage racks in rectangular pools,
typically 10-20 m long, 7-15 m wide, and 12-13 m deep. [4] The pool
is usually made of reinforced concrete walls four to five feet thick
with stainless steel liners. Pools at pressurized water reactors
(PWR, the most common reactors) are usually outside the reactor
containment building and partially or fully embedded in the ground.
Most of the spent fuel pools at boiling water reactors (BWR) are
housed in reactor buildings and above ground. A pool can have a 15 to
30 year storage (i.e. about 400-800 t for a PWR) of SNFs discharged
from a reactor. Spent fuel pools could hold about 10 times more long-
lived radioactivity than a reactor core. After a period of cooling
time, the spent fuel can be removed from the wet pool for a dry
storage or reprocessing.

Today, about 10,000 tHM spent fuel is generated annually. Over
150,000 tHM spent fuels were in storage by 2000. More than 90% of the
spent fuel in the world today is stored in pools at reactor sites or
in away-from-reactor facilities. [5] The abandoning or delaying of
reprocessing and the absence of established geologic repositories
through the world have resulted in an increase of spent fuel stored
at the power plants or in central repositories. Moreover, most
reactors were built with an originally planned reprocessing program
that made these reactors have much less pool storage capacity. Thus,
in many cases, these pools are approaching or have exceeded their
original design capacity. To compensate, in practice, many reactor
operators in the world are “re-racking” the spent fuel in the pool so
that the spent fuel is stored more densely. For example, at most
operating reactors in the United States, the ‘re-rack’ of spent fuel
has been done. As discussed below, these densepacked pools would be
more vulnerable to a pool fire and cause a large amount of
radioactive release.

The Consequence of Cesium-137 Release

A 400 t PWR pool holds about 10 times more long-lived radioactivity
than a reactor core. A radioactive release from such a pool would
cause catastrophic consequences. One major concern is the fission
product cesium-137 (Cs-137), which made a major contribution (about
three quarters) to the long-term radiological impact of the 1986
Chernobyl accident. A spent fuel pool would contain tens of million
curies of Cs-137. Cs-137 has a 30 year half-life; it is relatively
volatile and a potent land contaminant. In comparison, the April 1986
Chernobyl accident released about 2 Mega Curies (MCi) Cs-137 into the
atmosphere from the core of the 1,000 MWe unit 4. It is estimated
that over 100,000 residents were permanently evacuated because of
contamination by Cs-137.The total area of the radiation-control zone
is about 10,000 km², in which the contamination level is greater than
15 Ci/km² of Cs-137. [6]

A typical 1 GWe PWR core contains about 80 t fuels. Each year about
one third of the core fuel is discharged into the pool. A pool with
15 year storage capacity will hold about 400 t spent fuel. To
estimate the Cs-137 inventory in the pool, for example, we assume the
Cs137 inventory at shutdown is about 0.1 MCi/tU with a burn-up of
50,000 MWt-day/tU, thus the pool with 400 t of ten year old SNF would
hold about 33 MCi Cs-137. [7] Assuming a 50-100% Cs137 release during
a spent fuel fire, [8] the consequence of the Cs-137 exceed those of
the Chernobyl accident 8-17 times (2MCi release from Chernobyl).
Based on the wedge model, the contaminated land areas can be
estimated. [9] For example, for a scenario of a 50% Cs-137 release
from a 400 t SNF pool, about 95,000 km² (as far as 1,350 km) would be
contaminated above 15 Ci/km² (as compared to 10,000 km² contaminated
area above 15 Ci/km² at Chernobyl). Thus, it is necessary to take
security measures to prevent such an event from happening.

Vulnerability of Spent Fuel Pools

Until today, no accident or sabotage happened to cause the release of
radioactivity from a spent fuel pool. However, many scientists and
nuclear security experts are very concerned about a significant
release of radioactivity by a possible spent fuel fire, especially in
the case of dense packing of pools – a method that has been used by
many reactor operators worldwide including for most pools in the US.

The most serious risk is the loss of pool water, which could expose
spent fuel to the air, thus leading to an exothermal reactions of the
zirconium cladding, which would catch fire at about 9000 °C. Thus,
the Cs-137 in the rods could be dispersed into the surrounding
atmosphere. Based on a Technical Study of Spent Fuel Pool Accident
Risk at Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plant in 2000, the US Nuclear
Regulatory Commission (NRC) conceded that “the possibility of a
zirconium fire cannot be dismissed even many years after a final
reactor shutdown.” [10] Recently, a number of nuclear scientists
outside the government agency arrived at the same conclusion. For
example, the new technical study Reducing the hazards from stored
spent power-reactor fuel in the United States by R. Alvarez et al.
[11] points out that “In the absence of any cooling, a freshly
discharged core generating decay heat at a rate of 100 kWt/tU would
heat up adiabatically within an hour to about 600 °C, where the
zircaloy cladding would be expected to rupture under the internal
pressure from helium and fission product gases, and then to about 900
°C where the cladding would begin to burn in air.” In addition,
although the cooler fuel could not ignite on its own, many scientists
are concerned that fire from freshly spent fuel could spread to
adjacent cooler fuel by some mechanisms, including zircaloy oxidation
propagation. [12] Finally, even for the case of non-dense-packed
pools, there could still be some sabotage scenarios that cause a
significant amount of radioactive release as discussed in the
following section.

Thus, a loss of pool cooling could cause a pool fire. Then the
question is how such a loss of pool water is brought about. A
terrorist group could cause a loss of cooling water in a number of
ways, such as,

causing the loss of cooling, thus boiling the water off through the
failure of pumps or valves, through the destruction of heat
exchangers, or through a loss of power for the cooling system. It is
estimated that, in the case of a loss of cooling, the time it would
take for a spent fuel pool to boil down to near the top of the spent
fuel would be as short as several hours, depending on the cooling
time of the discharge fuel. [13] Moreover, in the case of terrorist
attack, the operators of nuclear facilities might not have enough
time to provide emergency cooling.
causing the drainage of coolant inventory by piping failures or
siphoning, and by gate and seal failures. Furthermore, a heavy load
including a fuel transport cask could be dropped in the pools thus
causing a collapse of the pool floor and a water leak. As reported,
“The analysis exclusively considered drops severe enough to
catastrophically damage the SFP so that pool inventory would be lost
rapidly and it would be impossible to refill the pool using onsite or
offsite resources. There is no possibility of mitigating the damage,
only preventing it.” “The staff assumes a catastrophic heavy load
drop (creating a large leakage path in the pool) would lead directly
to a zirconium fire.” [14]
puncturing the pool and causing a drainage by suicide airplanes,
missiles, or other explosives. For the case that spent fuel pools are
located above ground level, a suicide airplane could breach the pool
bottom or sidewalls and cause a complete or partial drainage. A US
NRC study estimated that a large aircraft (one weighing more than 5.4
tonnes) would have a 45% probability of penetrating the five-foot
thick concrete wall of a spent fuel pool. The NRC staff has decided
that it is prudent to assume that a turbine shaft of a large aircraft
engine could penetrate and drain a spent fuel storage pool. [15]
However, there are some opposing arguments regarding the impact of an
aircraft on a spent fuel pool. For example, a study conducted by the
Electric Power Research Institute at the request of the Nuclear
Energy Institute, which considers the impact of a Boeing 767 on spent
fuel storage pools concluded that “the stainless steel pool liner
ensures that, although the evaluations of the representative used
fuel pools determined that there was localized crushing and cracking
of the concrete wall, there was no loss of pool cooling water.
Because the used fuel pools were not breached, the used fuel is
protected and there would be no release of radionuclides to the
environment.” [16] However, many experts are concerned about the
spent fuel pool damage from an aircraft crash.

A terrorist could also use anti-tank missiles to puncture a pool.
Modern anti-tank weapons can be fired by shoulder or from a vehicle
or boat, and launched as far as 2 km away. It is reported that some
modern anti-tank missiles would be able to penetrate up to 3 m of
reinforced concrete. Thus these weapons could be used to conduct an
off-site attack on the pools. Moreover, a terrorist attack could
include some kinds of on-site explosions to damage the pools, such as
if a large truck bomb were detonated near the pool; or if a terrorist
carried a certain type of explosive to the pool and blew a sizeable
hole in the pool. In particular, the truck bomb would pose a big threat.

Risk of Spent Fuel Pools at Reprocessing Plants

Another risk is from the spent fuel pools at reprocessing plants. A
reprocessing plant has even greater pool storage capacity than that
of a reactor pool. Before reprocessing, the received spent fuels are
stored in wet pools at the reprocessing plants. The buildings that
house the pools could be even weaker than those pools at reactor
sites. In particular, the roof of the building could be more
vulnerable. Most of the sabotage scenarios conceivable for reactor
pools could be applied to these pools at reprocessing plants.
However, unlike those freshly discharged spent fuels at reactor pools
with dense packing, the cooler spent fuel at reprocessing pools,
which is at least two years old, could be difficult to ignite
automatically in the absence of cooling.

Nevertheless, there might still be some ways to cause a significant
radioactive release by a successful terrorist attack. For example, a
two- or multiple-stage attack by truck bombs, aircraft impacts or
other kinds of on-site explosion could at least breach the zircaloy
cladding or even partly melt the fuel cladding. Even though this
would not ignite a spent fuel fire, a significant fraction of Cs-137
in the rods could be released into the atmosphere. For example, a
pool with 2,000 t ten-year-old SNF would hold about 170 MCi Cs-137.
If 3% of this Cs-137 inventory were released, [17] about 5 MCi Cs-137
would be released, which is two times more than the 1986 Chernobyl
accident. Furthermore, terrorists could pour fuel in the pool and
start a fire that would cause ignition of the zircaloy cladding and
lead to a greater release of the Cs-137 inventory. Recent results
from France indicate that heating at 1,500 °C of high-burnup spent
fuel for one hour caused the release of 26% of the Cs inventory. [18]
Thus it would release about 44 MCi of Cs-137 into the environment,
which would be twenty times more than the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

The major operating reprocessing plants are at French La Hague,
British Sellafield, and Russian Mayak, and Japan is currently
building a major reprocessing facility (with a capacity of 800 tHM/y)
at Rokkasho, which is about 90% complete. UK’s British Nuclear Fuels
Plc. (BNFL) operates two reprocessing plants at Sellafield, the
Magnox B205 and the Thermal Oxide Reprocessing Plant (THORP). The
B205 plant has a capacity of 1,500 tHM/y and reprocesses SNF from 16
British Magnox reactors. THORP has a capacity of 1,200 tHM/y and
reprocesses SNF from 14 British Advanced Gas-Cooled Reactors (AGR) as
well as imported SNF. Like the Magnox reprocessing plant, THORP uses
the standard Purex method. As reported, the French La Hague nuclear
reprocessing facilities (with a normal capacity of 800 tHM/year in
each of the two facilities) holds a stock of radioactive substances
that greatly exceeds those of all the French nuclear reactors put
together. According to a Cogema presentation on the situation of its
storage pools on 30 June 2001, 7,484.2 t varied nuclear fuel (of
which 7,077.7 t from France), is spread in five pools (which provide
a total storage capacity of 13,990 t.) In addition, over 55 t
separated plutonium, over 1,400 m³ highly radioactive glass, and
10,000 m³ of radioactive sludges are located there. [19]

Some experts are already concerned about the possible consequence of
a terrorist attack on the La Hague nuclear reprocessing facilities.
As a COGEMA-La Hague spokesman declared after September 11, as far as
the design basis is concerned, the facilities are no more protected
against an airliner crash than any other nuclear power station. [20]
The World Information Service on Energy, Wise-Paris, estimated the
potential impact of a major accident in La Hague’s pools. [21] The
calculation was made for the case of an explosion and/or fire in the
spent fuel storage pool D (the smallest one), assuming that it is
filled up to half of its normal capacity of 3,490 t, supposing a
release of up to 100% of Cs-137. Based solely on the stock of Cs-137
in pool D, it is shown that a major accident in this pool could have
an impact up to 67 times that of the Chernobyl accident. Moreover,
the total Cs-137 inventory in the pools of La Hague reprocessing
facilities is about 7,500 kg, 280 times as much as the Cs-137 amount
released from the 1986 Chernobyl accident.

In fact, since 11 September 2001, attention has been drawn to the
physical protection of nuclear power plants and reprocessing
facilities. For example, France has installed anti-aircraft missiles
around its spent fuel pond at the La Hague reprocessing facilities.
Also in the UK, the House of Commons defense committee stressed that
attention should be focused on the vulnerability of nuclear
installations, including reprocessing plants. The Royal Air Force
Tornado F3 fighters based at Coningsby, Lincolnshire, are responsible
for intercepting hijacked commercial aircraft deemed a threat to UK
nuclear sites. In July 2002, the British government published a White
Paper entitled Managing the Nuclear Legacy: A Strategy for Action
which proposed to transform the United Kingdom Atomic Energy Autority
(UKAEA) Constabulary into a stand-alone force, the Civil Nuclear
Constabulary (CNC). [22]

Reducing the Risks Posed by Spent Fuel Pools

Spent fuel facilities could become a tempting target for terrorists.
Indeed, on September 11, the terrorists just used simple box-cutters
to convert a fuel-laden jetliner into guided missiles and cause mass
destruction. Similarly, terrorists could use conventional means to
turn an adversary’s nuclear spent fuel facilities into radiological
weapons. Therefore it is an urgent priority to enhance the current
nuclear security system worldwide. Here it is suggested that several
security measures should be taken to improve the existing security
systems for nuclear installations including spent fuel facilities.

Every country with SNF facilities should review and upgrade its basis
used for designing physical protection for these facilities to ensure
that it reflects the threat as perceived after September 11. It
should take some effective measures including a strong two-person
rule protecting against well-trained insiders. It also needs to deny
access to these nuclear facilities either by land or air to protect
against sabotage. This would include, for example, re-examining the
size of exclusion zones and adding effective physical barriers and
delay mechanisms around nuclear facilities to prevent against truck
bombs or boat attacks, and setting up a no-fly-zone around nuclear
facilities to exclude attacks of suicide aircrafts. Moreover, all
these facilities should be protected by well-trained, armed guard
Each country should enhance its security system to reduce the risk
posed by spent fuel pools. To protect against terrorist sabotage on
these pools, some specific measures should be taken, which would
include hardening the pool floor and walls to prevent the breach by
weapon attacks or heavy load drop, thus reducing the risk of the leak
of coolant, and providing for emergency ventilation of spent fuel
buildings or installing emergency water sprinkler systems to reduce
the likelihood of fire in case of a loss of coolant. Furthermore, to
reduce the likelihood of a pool fire, as much spent fuel as possible,
especially SNF at pools with dense packing, should be moved into the
less vulnerable dry storage type of cask as soon as possible. Unlike
wet pools, dry casks are cooled by natural convection that is driven
by the decay heat of the spent fuel itself, thus they are not
vulnerable to loss of coolant. In the U.S., for example, only about
4% of the spent fuel inventory is in dry storage, because there is no
financial incentive for the owner to move wastes to safer dry
storage. It is estimated that the cost of onsite dry-cask storage for
an additional 35,000 t of older spent fuel is about 0.03-0.06 cents
per KWh generated from that fuel. [23]Nevertheless, such a cost is
justified to reduce the potential catastrophic consequences of a pool
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) should re-examine and
update its guidelines for the physical protection of nuclear
facilities. Today there is no multilateral treaty that requires
nuclear facilities, including reactors and spent fuel facilities, to
be protected from sabotage. The only related treaty is the 1980
Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material. However,
it only applies to the protection from theft of material in
international transportation. In 1999, the IAEA made a substantial
revision of its recommendations on physical protection (INFCIRC 225/
Rev.4). After the September 11 attacks, the IAEA General Conference
accepted twelve physical protection principles developed by an
experts’ group, which include commending the IAEA’s programs of
training, guidance, and technical assistance to assist states in
establishing or improving systems of physical protection; requesting
the IAEA to strengthen its work to prevent acts of terrorism; and
urging IAEA members to support all of these programs. [24] However,
all these recommendations are not mandatory. Given the threat of
sabotage of nuclear facilities, the IAEA should review its guidelines
for physical protections of nuclear facilities and create new
requirements for regulations and standards of physical protection
with their new understanding of the threat in the aftermath of
September 11. At a minimum, each related country should immediately
apply these standards of physical protections as recommended in
INFCIRC 225/Rev.4 and by the experts’ principles. Furthermore, the
IAEA should soon conduct an amendment to the convention on physical
protection with adoption of stronger physical protection standards
against these threats and require each country to accept and apply
those standards to its nuclear facilities. Also, the IAEA should be
able to provide guidance, training, advisory services, and technical
assistance to help countries improve their protection practices and
to implement the new principles and recommendations. Finally, the
international community should further enhance the international
cooperative effort to improve current security systems of these
nuclear facilities, including spent fuel facilities.

Robert Alvarez, What about the spent fuel?, Bulletin of the Atomic
Scientist, vol.58, no.1, January/February 2002, pp. 45-47.
1 Curie [Ci] corresponds to an activity of 3.7 10-10 decays per
second. The total radioactivity of spent fuel is calculated with
ORIGEN2.1. E.g. the radioactivity of 1 MT spent fuel (50 MWd/kgU
burnup) discharged from a pressurized water reactor/PWR (4.5% initial
enrichment) are approximately 214 MCi at discharge, 25 MCi after one
week, 13 MCi after one month, and 3 MCi after one year, respectively.
E.g., based on ORIGEN2.1 code, the thermal powers of 1 MT spent fuel
(50 MWd/kgU burnup) discharged from a PWR (4.5% initial enrichment)
are approximately 2 MW at discharge, 200 kW after one day, 100 kW
after one week, and 13 kW after one year, respectively.
Bennett Ramberg, Nuclear Power Plants as Weapons for the Enemy,
Berkeley, CA, University of California Press, 1984.
Matthew Bunn et al., Interim Storage of Spent Nuclear Fuel – A Safe,
Flexible, and Cost-Effective Near-Term Approach to Spent Fuel
Management, A Joint Report from the Harvard University Project on
Managing the Atom and the University of Tokyo Project on
Sociotechnics of Nuclear Energy, June 2001.
Exposures and effects of the Chernobyl accident, Annex J in Sources
and Effects of Ionizing Radiation, the UNSCEAR 2000 Report, vol. II
(UN 2000);
E.g. based on ORIGEN2.1 calculation, the radioactivity of Cs-137 in 1
MT spent fuel (50 MWd/kgU burnup) discharged from a PWR (4.5% initial
enrichment) are approximately 1.04 X105 Ci at discharge and 8.25 X104
Ci after ten years discharge, respectively.
Based on a spent fuel pool study by the Brookhaven National
Laboratory, as much as 100% of the fuel’s Cs-137 inventory would be
released into the environment in a case of a pool fire. See details
about the range estimate, e.g. R.J. Travis, R.E. Davis, E.J. Grove,
and M.A. Azarm, A Safety and Regulatory Assessment of Generic BWR and
PWR Permanently Shutdown Nuclear Power Plants, Brookhaven National
Laboratory, NUREG/CR-6451; BNL-NUREG-52498, 1997.
For the wedge model: the contamination level σ = [Q/(θrRd)] exp (-r/
Rd) Ci/m² where Q is the size of the release in Curies; θ is the
angular width of a down-wind wedge within which the air concentration
is assumed to be uniform across the wedge and vertically through the
mixing layer, r is the downwind distance in meters; and Rd is the
‘deposition length’ Rd = Hvw/vd, where H is the thickness of the
mixing layer, vw is the wind velocity averaged over the mixing layer,
and vd, the aerosol deposition velocity, measures the ratio between
the air concentration and ground deposition density. Here the
released Cs-137 in a plume is assumed to be distributed vertically
uniformly through the atmosphere’s lower ‘mixing layer’ and dispersed
downwind in a wedge model approximation under median conditions, that
is, mixing layer thickness of 1 km, wedge-angle opening angle of 6
degrees, wind speed of 5 m/sec, and deposition velocity of 1 cm/sec.
See details about the model in: Report to the American Physical
Society by the study group on light-water reactor safety, Reviews of
Modern Physics, 47, Supplement 1, 1975.
US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Technical Study of Spent Fuel Pool
Accident Risk at Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants (NRC,
NUREG-1738, 2001).
Robert Alvarex, Jan Beyea, Klaus Janberg, Jungmin Kang, Ed Lyman,
Allison Macfarlane, Gordon Thompson, and Frank von Hippel, Reducing
the Hazards from Stored Spent Power-Reactor Fuel in the United
States, Science & Global Security, vol.11, no.1, 2003.
V.L. Sailor, K.R. Perkins, J.R. Weeks, and H.R. Connell, Severe
Accidents in Spent Fuel Pools in Support of Generic Safety,
Brookhaven National Laboratory, NUREG/CR-4982; BNL-NUREG-52093, 1987,
p. 52.
As an example, if a core had been loaded into the spent fuel pool
five days after shutdown, it could take about eight hours to boil
down. For details see: US Nuclear Regulatory Commission, Briefing On
Spent Fuel Pool Study, Public Meeting, November 14, 1996;
reading-rm/doc-collections/commission/tr/1996/19961114a.html, p. 27.
NRC, Technical Study of Spent Fuel Pool Accident Risk at
Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants, op.cit.
NRC, Technical Study of Spent Fuel Pool Accident Risk at
Decommissioning Nuclear Power Plants, op.cit., p. 3-23.
ABS Consulting and Anatech, Deterring Terrorism: Aircraft Crash
Impact Analyses Demonstrate Nuclear Power Plant’s Structural
Strength, December 2002;
For the case of spent fuel transportation cask, it is estimated that
3% of the Cs-137 inventory could be released from the breached spent
fuel. For details see: Edwin Lyman, A Critique of Physical Protection
Standards for Transport of Irradiated Material, in: Proceedings of
the 40th Annual Meeting of the Institute of Nuclear Materials
Management, Phoenix, AZ, July 1999, Northbrook, IL: INMM, 1999. Here
I took the same fraction of released Cs-137 in the case of spent pool.
NRC, Advisory Committee on Reactor Safeguards, Public meeting, April
World Information Service on Energy (WiseParis), La Hague
Particularly Exposed to Plane Crash Risk, Briefing NRA-v4, 26
September 2001;
Les Echos, 13 September 2001, see details in Wise-Paris, op.cit.
Wise-Paris, op.cit.
For more details see and
Robert Alvarez, op.cit.
See details in: George Bunn and Fritz Steinhausler, Guarding Nuclear
Reactors and Material From Terrorists and Thieves, Arms Control
Today, October 2001.

For more information about this publication please contact the MTA
Project Coordinator at 617-495-4219.

For Academic Citation:

Zhang, Hui. “Radiological Terrorism: Sabotage of Spent Fuel Pools.”
INESAP: International Network of Engineers and Scientists Against
Proliferation no. 22 (December 2003): 75-78.
GE Scientist Quit Over Troubled Reactor’s Design

Scientist Dale Bridenbaugh and two colleagues at General Electric
quit their jobs in the 1970s to express their concern about the
company’s Mark 1 nuclear reactor — the design of the troubled
reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi plant in Japan.

As Newsmax reported earlier, there are 23 GE Mark 1 nuclear reactors
operating in the United States.

“The problems we identified in 1975 were that, in doing the design
of the containment, they did not take into account the dynamic loads
that could be experienced with a loss of coolant,” Bridenbaugh told
ABC News.

“The impact loads the containment would receive by this very rapid
release of energy could tear the containment apart and create an
uncontrolled release.”

Bridenbaugh said GE eventually addressed the design flaws in the Mark
1 reactors with a series of retrofits. But he added that “the Mark 1
is still a little more susceptible to an accident that would result
in a loss of containment.”

Read more on GE Scientist Quit Over Troubled Reactor’s


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