Regarding the spent nuclear fuel controversy, in his letter to the Statesman July 26, Robert Gehrke succinctly warns that INL capabilities must be sustained; however, the Department of Energy must be on the right track.
Right now the plans to study 25 fuel rods are inadequate. A full bundle of rods is required because the interaction of the structures of the bundle with the individual fuel rods is significant.
What is even worse, the Department of Energy and the Electric Power Research Institute have chosen the spent fuel based only on the amount of time in service. As EPRI knows, it is the severity of service, and not the length of service, that has the greatest impact on the long-term durability of the fuel in storage. The fuel that is currently in the reactors is subjected to very much less rough service because the nuclear power industry has learned a lot. However, hundreds of fuel bundles were subjected to severe conditions during the earlier decades.
Clearly, DOE must study a bundle and that bundle must be selected from among the hundreds that have been roughed up.
Robert Leyse, Sun Valley