WASHINGTON (CN) - The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission has added the HI-STORM Flood/Wind cask system to the "List of Approved Spent Fuel Storage Casks" for storing spent fuel from nuclear reactors.
Spent fuel rods can be stored in dry casks after five years in cooling ponds. The agency encourages nuclear plant operators to move spent fuel rods into dry cask storage because the steel and reinforced concrete containers are considered safer for long term storage than the open ponds, which can fail catastrophically, as happened at the Fukushima nuclear plant in Japan, if the berms containing the ponds are breached allowing the water to escape.
Lack of space in existing ponds and the failure of the Federal Government to create a permanent storage facility for spent nuclear fuel led to the development of dry cask storage as a temporary alternative in the late 1970s.
There are currently 21 approved cask designs. The HI-STORM Flood/Wind cask is produced by Holtec International in Pittsburgh, Pa., which claims on its Web site that its HI-STORM line of casks are engineered to provide "Absolute protection from radiological release against threats of the 9/11 genre."
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