Resilience and Security of Spent Fuel in East Asia

Aerial view of the Fukushima Diachi nuclear plant after the 3.11 earthquake and tsunami.

The Fukushima disaster has brought into public focus the relationship between nuclear safety and vulnerabilities to terrorism. The earthquake, tsunami, and nuclear meltdowns in Japan has made the location and physical security of nuclear plants and spent fuel storage facilities a 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 Resilience and Security of Spent Fuel in East Asia project, draws on a network of experts on nuclear safety and security in East Asia and the United States. 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 working group meeting  was co-hosted by the Nautilus Institute and the Center for Peace and Public Integrity at Hanshin University.

This working group meeting was funded by the John T. and Catherine D. MacArthur Foundation and the Carnegie Corporation of New York.