Security of Spent Nuclear Fuel (2012-2014)


The Fukushima disaster in 2011 brought nuclear safety sharply into public focus. The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in Japan has made the location and physical security of nuclear plants and spent fuel storage facilities a global priority to prevent the diversion of fissile material, an attack on spent fuel facilities, or an accident initiated by a natural disaster.

In particular, “deep borehole disposal”, whereby canisters of spent fuel are permanently emplaced 3-5 kilometers below the earth’s surface in stable granite formations, has the potential to store spent fuel in an irretrievable manner in a way that limits the potential for attack on spent fuel storage sites from state or non-state actors and avoids many of the political issues associated with dry-cask storage in East Asia.

The Security of Spent Nuclear Fuel project draws on a network of experts on nuclear safety and security in East Asia and the United States. Between 2012 and 2014 country teams from China, Japan, and South Korea will examine how alternative spent fuel storage locations, management strategies, and storage technologies—including deep borehole disposal of spent nuclear fuel and high-level wastes—can minimize the risk of radioactive releases caused by nuclear terrorism or by accidents.

The 2012 working group meeting, held on April 13-15 in Seoul, South Korea, brought together project participants and other experts to coordinate the work of the research network and share initial research results.

The 2013 working group meeting, held in May 28-30th in Tsinghua Science Park (new Tsinghua University Campus) in Beijing, China, brought the project participants together again to continue to coordinate the work of the research network and share results.

This project is funded by the Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.