NEI criticizes fear-mongering by authors of used fuel paper

WASHINGTON, D.C., Feb. 14, 2003--The Nuclear Energy Institute (NEI) today criticized the "reckless fear-mongering" of the authors of a paper on used nuclear fuel storage that the authors are promoting even prior to its publication in a university magazine.

The paper is the subject today of a sensationalistic news release being issued through the communications office at Princeton University, with which one of the paper's authors is affiliated. The paper criticizes used fuel storage methods at nuclear power plants and theorizes about the possible effects of a successful terrorist attack on those facilities. The paper misapplies a simplistic 2001 analysis by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission and intentionally misleads the public about the extent and possibility of an improbable event: a radiation release from used fuel pools.

"The unpublished paper that the authors--clearly by no coincidence--are choosing to promote at a time of heightened concern about possible terrorist attacks on U.S. soil, fails to acknowledge the robust security at nuclear power plants," NEI Vice President Scott Peterson said.

"The likelihood of a successful terrorist attack against used nuclear fuel structures is miniscule. Nonetheless, the authors focus on what they're reportedly labeling a 'reduction in hazards' at sites where used nuclear fuel already is extremely well protected. By ignoring the hazards at other industrial sites that are not nearly as well protected as nuclear power plants, the authors are adding nothing to the nation's homeland security efforts. They are engaged in reckless fear-mongering at a time when the nation's homeland security resources need to be deployed where they are most needed and will do the most good."

Used nuclear fuel is safely stored at nuclear power plant sites, either in steel-lined, concrete vaults filled with water (used fuel pools) or in steel or steel-reinforced concrete containers with steel inner canisters (dry storag

Contact: Steve Kerekes
Nuclear Energy Institute

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