Company failed to test Yankee storage casks
08/13/09 7:04AM By John Dillon
The company that built the containers used to hold high-level nuclear waste at Vermont Yankee failed to conduct a required test to insure the casks are safe.
But the Nuclear Regulatory Commission says other tests were done and that regulators believe that the public is not in danger from radiation exposure.
Larry Lorson is the NRC's deputy director for spent fuel storage and transportation. He said all five of the steel and concrete casks at Vermont Yankee were made by Holtec International of New Jersey.
Lorson said the company decided on its own to discontinue using pressurized helium gas to test for leaks in the casks.
(Lorson) Our safety assessment has shown that there is no safety problem here. And we'll review the corrective actions that will be provided by Holtec, the manufacturer, when they're complete.
(Host) Lorson said the NRC has determined that Holtec was not supposed to suspend the testing procedure. He said regulators don't believe the casks will leak.
(Lorson) What we have here is a case of manufacturer that was supplying components to Entergy that removed a test that we think was inappropriate to remove. But we don't have any indication that based upon the manufacturing history and the other tests that they do that there's any defect associated with manufacturing of these containers.
(Host) Lorson said the casks could be tested now, but that would involve removing the highly radioactive spent fuel. The risks involve in that procedure, he said, do not justify the additional testing.
The NRC says Holtec failed to conduct the helium tests on 109 casks that are installed at 15 sites around the country.