Hydrogen Fires Still Plague Rad Waste Dry Casks

KALAMAZOO, Michigan -- At the Palisades nuclear reactors near here, "dry cask" storage for waste reactor fuel has caused controversy.

Problems with cracking welds on the casks were aggravated in 1996 by a pair of hydrogen gas explosions that jarred the lid off a similar cask being welded in Wisconsin. Use of the faulty "VSC-24" cask was halted for a time.

Then on June 10 of this year, welders at Palisades had to snuff out two hydrogen fires they ignited while welding on another VSC-24.

A NRC inspection team that rushed to the scene declared that "This hydrogen burning was of minor safety significance."

--Notification of Unusual Occurrence, Nuclear Regulatory Commission, June 10, 1999.