Spent Fuel Pool

Spent Fuel Pool

Spent fuel pools (SFP) are storage pools for spent fuel from nuclear reactors. They are typically 40 or more feet (12 m) deep, with the bottom 14 feet (4.3 m) equipped with storage racks designed to hold fuel assemblies removed from the reactor. A reactor's pool is specially designed for the reactor in which the fuel was used and situated at the reactor site. In many countries, the fuel assemblies, after being in the reactor for 3 to 6 years, are stored underwater for 10 to 20 years before being sent for reprocessing or dry cask storage. The water cools the fuel and provides shielding from radiation.

While only about 8 feet (2.4 m) of water is needed to keep radiation levels below acceptable levels, the extra depth provides a safety margin and allows fuel assemblies to be manipulated without special shielding to protect the operators.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission estimates that many of the nuclear power plants in the United States will be out of room in their spent fuel pools by 2015, most likely requiring the use of temporary storage of some kind.

Read more about Spent Fuel Pool:  Operation, Other Possible Configurations, Risks, See Also

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