Visit NBCNews.com for breaking news, world news, and news about the economy
Rachel reports; “To make that nuclear reaction that makes that heat, those uranium pellets are the fuel. And just like any fuel, it gets used up eventually. Your 12-foot-long fuel rod full of those uranium pellet, lasts about six years in a reactor, until the fission process uses that uranium fuel up. It becomes something they call “spent fuel.” What they mean is that it is degraded enough that even though it’s still wicked radioactive, it is no longer efficient for doing what nuclear power plants are supposed to do, which is generating a lot of heat, boiling a bunch of water, making a bunch of steam that spins a bunch of turbines that make electricity.
So, here’s the problem — after you’ve gotten your good six years out of your uranium pellet-filled fuel rods, what do you do with them?
What do you do with your expired fuel? What do you do with that spent fuel rod?
Even after it’s been taken out of service, the spent fuel is still incredibly hot, thermally hot, like touching the stove hot. And it’s also very, very radioactive.”