United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment
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Spent Fuel Pool Instrumentation Order

Spent Fuel Pool LogoDuring the accident at Fukushima, the plants lost their ability to cool the spent fuel pools. Plant operators couldn't determine how much water was in the pools during the accident, which was a problem. If enough water boiled away or was otherwise lost, the spent fuel rods could emerge from the receding water and potentially release significant amounts of radiation.  Weeks later it was learned that the spent fuel was always covered, but the information gap diverted significant attention and extremely limited resources from more important tasks during the accident. The NRC issued an Order on March 12, 2012, requiring all U.S. nuclear power plants to install water level instrumentation in their spent fuel pools. The instrumentation must remotely report at least three distinct water levels: 1) normal level; 2) low level but still enough to shield workers above the pools from radiation; and 3) a level near the top of the spent fuel rods where more water should be added without delay.

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Page Last Reviewed/Updated Wednesday, June 26, 2013