Marvin Fertel, a senior executive at the Nuclear Energy Institute, the industry's trade group, said a computer analysis the industry commissioned in 2002 showed that fuel pool structures would withstand, without a significant loss of water, the impact of an aircraft crash.
But the study said the pools vary among plants and reactor designs, and that some are more vulnerable than others.
The panel said dry cask storage provides better protection. It also said significant numbers of used fuel rods always will have to be stay in pools for as long as five years before they adequately cool. At least one-quarter of the power plants now have some of their spent fuel in dry casks.