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Mystery bacteria 'cobwebs' found in nuclear cooling tank

Spring cleaning is always a good way to get rid of those hard-to-reach cobwebs that appear around the house. However, when they appear in cooling tanks for spent nuclear fuel and have never been seen there before, special attention is warranted.

Sometime in Fiscal Year 2011, “cobwebs” of bacteria were first discovered in the L Area basin at the Savannah River Site. Since then, a process of getting to the 70-feet-deep life form, collecting it and then examining it has been undertaken.
The formations of bacteria are colloquially described as “cobwebs” as they form strands similar to the household dust collections.

In an April 23 presentation to the SRS's Citizen Advisory Board's Nuclear Materials subcommittee, Maxcine Maxted with Department of Energy noted advances that had been made in approaching, recovering and analyzing the bacterial growth located on the tops of the fuel bundles underwater.

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