Water serves as a natural—and one of the most effective—barriers to radiation. This is one of the reasons that used, or spent, fuel is stored in pools. Rods containing uranium fuel pellets are bundled together to form one fuel assembly. Each assembly is about 13 feet high and 8 inches square. After it spends about four years in the reactor giving off heat, a fuel assembly is spent and ready to be stored in water in the spent fuel pool. The spent fuel pools at Indian Point are approximately 40 feet deep with a perimeter of about 30 feet by 35 feet. Spent fuel assemblies sit on the bottom of each pool and are covered by about 25 feet of water. This water provides cooling to keep the fuel thermally cool, as well as protection to plant personnel from the effects of radiation as they perform work around the fuel pool. Fuel assemblies are arranged neatly in racks at the bottom of the pool to maximize the space available.
There is one spent fuel pool for each of the two operating units at Indian Point – unit 2 and unit 3. Entergy previously completed removal of all fuel from the unit 1 spent fuel pool.
The spent fuel pools for the two operating Indian Point plants have extremely robust design and construction features, including:
Fuel at Indian Point is stored in via two methods – in spent fuel pools and in dry cask storage.