US nuclear agency urged to review spent fuel pools

MATTHEW DALY - Associated Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — A new report urges the Nuclear Regulatory Commission to take immediate steps to improve the safety of spent-fuel pools at U.S. nuclear plants.

A staff report released Wednesday elevates the importance of spent-fuel pools, saying current regulations do not require instruments that measure water levels to be operable in case of accident. Water levels at spent-fuel pools were a major issue after a March 11 earthquake and tsunami that crippled a nuclear plant in Japan.

NRC Chairman Gregory Jaczko initially said a spent-fuel pool at the plant was dry, a claim that Japanese officials sharply disputed. NRC officials later acknowledged Jaczko spoke in error.

The recommendation on spent-fuel pools is one of eight steps agency staff says the NRC should take "without delay" as it responds to the Japan crisis.