Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
Don't thank me as if I really knew what I'm talking about - I'm just a former physicist and am speculating from the best information I think I have so far.

The protocol for dealing with spent fuel appears to be to cool it in water for a year in the reactor's own spent-fuel pool, after which it is cool enough to move to on-site storate by human operators.

But this does not necessarily mean that a year is needed for the fuel to cool down enough for the rods not to melt or burn. It means a year is sufficient time (or comfortbly more than sufficient time, given the "defence in depth" philosophy at play here) for the fuel rods to not emit enough gamma radiation to be unsafe to handle by human operators wearing standard protective clothing. Keeping them in water for a whole year may also use the water as a radiation shield (for beta radiation mostly), not necessarily for cooling.

Economics is politics by other means

by Carrie (migeru at eurotrib dot com) on Thu May 12th, 2011 at 11:19:39 AM EST
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