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theenergynet on 2011-08-16
U.S. reactors have generated about 65,000 metric tons of spent fuel, of which 75 percent is stored in pools, according to Nuclear Energy Institute data. Spent fuel rods give off about 1 million rems (10,00Sv) of radiation per hour at a distance of one foot — enough radiation to kill people in a matter of seconds. There are more than 30 million such rods in U.S. spent fuel pools. No other nation has generated this much radioactivity from either nuclear power or nuclear weapons production.
Nearly 40 percent of the radioactivity in U.S. spent fuel is cesium-137 (4.5 billion curies) — roughly 20 times more than released from all atmospheric nuclear weapons tests. U.S. spent pools hold about 15-30 times more cesium-137 than the Chernobyl accident released. For instance, the pool at the Vermont Yankee reactor, a BWR Mark I, currently holds nearly three times the amount of spent fuel stored at Dai-Ichi's crippled Unit 4 reactor. The Vermont Yankee reactor also holds about seven percent more rad