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Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Waste: International Experience

Michael E. Wangler and Ronald B. Pope

International Atomic Energy Agency

The transport of radioactive material has an outstanding safety record. This safety record has its basis in model regulations that have been established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since 1963 the IAEA through its member states has constantly reviewed and revised the regulations as appropriate. The regulations were originally designated as Safety Series No. 6, “Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material”; since 1996 they have been referred to as TS-R-1. TS-R-1, along with its companion document, “Advisory Material for the IAEA Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material,” TS-G-1.1, provides the basis for worldwide implementation of a harmonized approach to safe transport. TS-R-1 is now incorporated into the United Nations “Model Regulations for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods” (often called the “Orange Book”). The modal organizations of the United Nations (UN), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and International Maritime Organization (IMO) have incorporated the UN’s regulations into their own.

Although the safety in transport of radioactive material has continually improved over the years, other issues have begun to cause concern. Since the events of September 11, 2001, security in transport has been an issue. Because of the nature of radioactive material, its availability during public transport could lead to theft of unsecured materials for use in weapons that could disrupt society. While most of the radioactive material transported would not present a radiological hazard from a “dirty bomb,” the societal response to contamination could cause significant interruption in the populations and economies that are affected by the bomb.

Additionally, the response to an emergency in which radioactive materials are released during an incident or accident creates a liability issue that has threat-



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An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility: Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype - Proceedings of an International Workshop Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Waste: International Experience Michael E. Wangler and Ronald B. Pope International Atomic Energy Agency The transport of radioactive material has an outstanding safety record. This safety record has its basis in model regulations that have been established by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Since 1963 the IAEA through its member states has constantly reviewed and revised the regulations as appropriate. The regulations were originally designated as Safety Series No. 6, “Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material”; since 1996 they have been referred to as TS-R-1. TS-R-1, along with its companion document, “Advisory Material for the IAEA Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material,” TS-G-1.1, provides the basis for worldwide implementation of a harmonized approach to safe transport. TS-R-1 is now incorporated into the United Nations “Model Regulations for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods” (often called the “Orange Book”). The modal organizations of the United Nations (UN), International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO), and International Maritime Organization (IMO) have incorporated the UN’s regulations into their own. Although the safety in transport of radioactive material has continually improved over the years, other issues have begun to cause concern. Since the events of September 11, 2001, security in transport has been an issue. Because of the nature of radioactive material, its availability during public transport could lead to theft of unsecured materials for use in weapons that could disrupt society. While most of the radioactive material transported would not present a radiological hazard from a “dirty bomb,” the societal response to contamination could cause significant interruption in the populations and economies that are affected by the bomb. Additionally, the response to an emergency in which radioactive materials are released during an incident or accident creates a liability issue that has threat-

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An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility: Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype - Proceedings of an International Workshop ened to deny transport for consignments. In particular, people have expressed growing concerns that radioactive material transported by sea, if inadvertently released, could affect a significant global area due to coastline contamination or disruption in commercial fishing. Consequently, issues of liability are continuing to be discussed by members of the IMO and the IAEA and their member states. This paper will review these issues, with a particular focus on transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste. The differences in safety and security will be discussed even though the terms have not yet been succinctly defined. The safety and physical protection in transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste will be presented and the international acceptance of IAEA recommendations will be noted. A summary of the international liability regime will show the conventions that have been enabled to date. Data related to the international experience in shipping materials will also be presented. All of these discussion points demonstrate that the packagings used in transport are robust; that the likelihood of a release during transport is small; and that safety in the transport of radioactive material is not being compromised. SAFETY VERSUS SECURITY Before any discussion, the terms safety and security must be defined. The definitions presented here are limited to this paper. Subtleties exist in the definitions of these two terms, between languages and with different applications. In some languages safety and security mean the same thing. For this paper the discussion will focus on text derived from English dictionary definitions. Because the terms have not been used together they are often defined in an unrelated manner, and there are certain schools that define security as a subset of safety. That is, safety of radioactive sources must involve the source being unable to be obtained by an unauthorized individual; however, a source that is simply secure may not be safe because of an unaddressed radiological hazard. Other schools identify them as separate but overlapping terms because nonradiological hazardous sources, such as poisons or flammables, that are secure may indeed be safe. Some schools consider safety as a part of security. Security of radiological sources potentially involves a threat analysis to determine the nature of security. Because of wide ranging hazards the application of safety and security is usually accomplished according to a graded approach, that is, the complexity of safety and security requirements will depend on the overall hazard of the materials. From a security perspective actions may range from a locked room for low hazards to armed guards for extremely high-hazard materials. Similarly, the application of radiological safety may range from limiting access to an area to excluding an area from most activity, for example, treatment of cancer with teletherapy devices. For the purposes of this paper the following definitions are used: Safety relates to protection of people and the environment from unintentional exposure

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An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility: Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype - Proceedings of an International Workshop during normal use of and accidents involving radioactive material. On the other hand security relates to protection of people and the environment from malicious, intentional actions by man. These definitions are narrow for discussions in this paper, and as these subjects are discussed more frequently in public forums, additional limitations may further refine the meaning and intent of the terms. SAFETY IN TRANSPORT OF SPENT FUEL AND HIGH-LEVEL WASTE Safety in the transport of radioactive material is achieved through proper classification of the materials; use of appropriate containment through performance-oriented packages; criticality safety through limitations on fissile materials; communication for emergency response through marks, labels, placards, and shipping documents; and appropriate training of transport personnel. Worldwide, safety has been achieved through the development and implementation of a set of model regulations that have been adopted by IAEA member states through legally binding instruments imposed through the UN modal organizations and through legislative and regulatory actions at the state level. The current regulations are the result of over 40 years of effort by the IAEA, which has the statutory function in the UN system. The IAEA establishes standards of safety by issuing its Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material. The IAEA also provides guidance and supportive documents to assure that these regulations are implemented as uniformly as possible. The regulations are based on sound radiation safety principles. To underscore the importance of the regulations, in 1998 the IAEA General Conference, in a resolution, recognized that compliance with regulations, which take account of the agency’s transport regulations, is providing a high level of safety during the transport of radioactive material. Additionally, the IAEA provides for the application of the regulations through technical assistance, information exchange, education and training, research and development, and appraisal services. Of particular importance is the IAEA’s Transport Safety Appraisal Service (TranSAS). TranSAS evaluates a member state’s transport safety regulatory program by assessing the member state’s transport safety regulatory practices, by suggesting and recommending improvements in the member state’s program, and identifying and documenting good practices to assist other member states in their regulatory activities. To date, the IAEA has appraised five state programs. The UN gave the IAEA these roles in 1959. Since that time six major editions of the regulations have been developed. The major editions were published in 1961, 1964, 1967, 1973, 1985, and 1996. Minor revisions have been incorporated within those dates. The current edition of the regulations is available in English, French, Spanish, and Russian.

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An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility: Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype - Proceedings of an International Workshop The IAEA regulations serve as the basis or model for international and modal regulatory documents as follows: United Nations (UN) Committee of Experts: Model Regulations, that is, the Orange Book International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO): Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air, Technical Instructions International Maritime Organization (IMO): International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code Universal Postal Union: Parcel Post Manual UN Economic Commission for Europe (ECE): Regulations Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID) UN Economic Commission for Europe: European Agreement Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) UN Economic Commission for Europe: European Provisions Concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Inland Waterway (ADN) All these regulatory documents cover all 9 classes of dangerous goods. Radioactive material is identified as a Class 7 dangerous good. Figure 1 depicts some of the relationships. FIGURE 1 Relationships of regulations concerning transportation of dangerous goods.

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An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility: Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype - Proceedings of an International Workshop APPLICATION OF IAEA REGULATIONS FOR THE TRANSPORT OF RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL Although the IAEA regulations are not directly binding on member states, they are adopted by incorporation into the regulations of member states. Voluntary compliance by member states ensures that radioactive material is transported safely and efficiently across international boundaries. Member states expend much effort to achieve a harmonization of their regulations. Additionally, the UN’s modal bodies play an essential role in this harmonization. For air transport the ICAO’s Technical Instructions are binding on all ICAO member states through the Chicago Convention. The IMO for sea mode binds all its members to comply with the IMDG Code. For travel by road, rail, and inland waterway in Europe compliance with ADR, RID, and ADN is mandatory. For international sea transport the IMO developed the Irradiated Nuclear Fuel (INF) Code in cooperation with the IAEA, which details standards for ships that transport INF. INF in this case includes spent nuclear fuel, high-level waste (HLW), and plutonium. This code was adopted by IMO resolution in 1999 and became mandatory under the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) convention on January 1, 2001. The IMO has been particularly active in developing requirements for sea shipment. The regulatory regimes for the IMDG and INF Codes are distinct and separate. The IMDG Code addresses package design and operational requirements for transport of all radioactive material. The INF Code addresses the design of ships and the operational aspects for the limited subset of radioactive material noted above. The INF Code specifies three classes of ships with a graded approach to requirements. These classes are Class INF 1 with an aggregate cargo less than 4000 TBq, Class INF 2 with aggregate INF cargo less than 2 × 106 TBq of INF or HLW and/or 2 × 105 TBq of Pu, and Class INF 3 with no limit on INF, HLW, or plutonium. Class INF 3 Code ships have the most robust set of requirements imposed. CONSIDERATIONS IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF AND COMPLIANCE WITH THE REGULATIONS As mentioned earlier the regulations prescribe requirements for classification, containment, criticality safety, communication, and training. To reduce the effect of human factors during transport, the regulations provide for defense in depth to packaging requirements. The packaging is the primary defense against the release of radioactive material to the environment under all conditions. This defense is particularly important during an accident when packaging must perform in a robust manner to protect the public and the environment from the release of its radioactive contents. As statistics demonstrate, accidents involving

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An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility: Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype - Proceedings of an International Workshop radioactive material have occurred and will continue to occur. As the statistics further demonstrate, conformance with packaging requirements has resulted in no known deaths or injuries resulting from the radioactive nature of the cargo. The record of safety is unmatched by any other class of dangerous goods. This emphasis on rigorous package design and test requirements by the regulations is especially important for larger quantities of radioactive material, such as spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste. The regulations prescribe rigorous design standards, demanding tests, and stringent acceptance requirements and limit the radiological exposure during and following an accident. Typical package accident test requirements include impacts onto an unyielding target, in the most damaging attitude through either a 9 m drop of the package, or a 9 m drop of a 500 kg steel mass onto the package, and a 1 m drop of the package onto a 15 cm steel bar; a full engulfing for 30 minutes with 800°C minimum average temperature; and a water immersion of 15 m, 0.9 m if fissile, and 200 m for larger quantities of radioactive material. Many tests and evaluations of the adequacy of the regulations have been undertaken over time. In addition to these tests considering the experience with the application of the regulations, consideration has been given for a number of years to the question of whether or not the Type B performance requirements as specified in the regulations provide a sufficiently high level of safety; whether a more severe, as yet unexperienced accident could result in significant failure of a Type B package. National regulatory authorities, research institutes, and the IAEA secretariat have all attempted to address this issue. A large number of technical studies have been published addressing various aspects of the Type B performance requirements and the resulting levels of safety provided. These studies have illustrated the rigorous nature of the requirements and the resulting high level of safety. A number of these have focused on numerical risk assessments, which will not be addressed here. Others have focused on actual testing of packages in real-world environments, often at levels in excess of those required for design certification by the regulations. A few of these real-world test programs are briefly described below; they were often directed toward answering a question such as, “What happens to radioactive material packages in real-world accidents, since these may occur at speeds and with fire conditions greater than the regulatory tests?” The technical answer to such a question is that real-world accidents, while they may appear spectacular, usually result in less damage to a package than the regulatory tests. The regulatory tests require that the impact, thermal, and immersion forces be applied to the packages in the most damaging way and in a specified sequence. This results in a very severe cumulative effect on the package structure. In real-world accidents this has never occurred, and is highly unlikely. Crushing of conveyances, rotation and displacement of the equipment involved, sliding, and so forth attenuate impact forces. Thermal forces are mitigated by the location of the package (especially an INF or HLW package since it is very heavy, and following an impact it could be expected to be lying on a

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An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility: Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype - Proceedings of an International Workshop horizontal surface where the fire is not as fully engulfing as the regulatory test); an intervening structure that will shield or absorb heat; the moving nature of a fire as it consumes available fuel; and the tendency to have low oxygen availability in the center of large fires, which reduces thermal input. Despite these technical and real considerations, there have always been questions about how the regulatory tests compare to real-world severe accidents. SECURITY IN TRANSPORT OF SPENT FUEL AND HIGH-LEVEL WASTE Since the events of September 11, 2001, added attention is being paid to security of radioactive material, including spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste. All the UN bodies, including the UN Committee of Experts, the IMO, and the ICAO have been focusing attention on security. The IAEA Board of Governors has requested that the IAEA take extraordinary actions to address security. Member states have made extrabudgetary contributions to assist the IAEA in this area. In October 2003 the IAEA will convene a Technical Meeting to address guidelines on security in transport of radioactive material. These events could lead one to believe that transport security has never been addressed or has received only limited attention. In fact, security has been addressed for nuclear materials for many years. Guidance on security for nuclear materials is already provided for in an IAEA document, INFCIRC/225/Rev.4, “The Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials and Nuclear Facilities.” This document identifies plutonium with less than an 80 percent concentration of plutonium-238, uranium-235, and uranium-233 as nuclear materials. Seventy-eight states have signed the Convention on Physical Protection of Nuclear Materials, which was a precursor to INFCIRC/225. For security in the transport of nuclear materials INFCIRC/225 requires consideration of the following actions: minimizing time in transport minimizing number and duration of transfers during transport providing protection consistent with category of materials avoiding the use of regular movement schedules requiring predetermination of the trustworthiness of all individuals involved limiting advance knowledge to a minimum number of persons Further, INFCIRC/225 describes the categories of materials that are to be protected. In decreasing order of security needs these categories are the following:

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An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility: Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype - Proceedings of an International Workshop Category I. Material in sufficient quantity to be useful in producing a workable nuclear device (highest security level) Category II. Material that either in total mass or need for further operation is not useful in itself for producing a nuclear device (requires significant security) Category III. Material in quantity or quality that is insufficient in itself in producing a nuclear weapon (requires slightly more stringent security than standard transport) Transport of all other dangerous goods faces a new paradigm since September 11. The UN has already developed security requirements for its model regulations for all dangerous goods. The IMO has issued a new code for ship and port facilities. As already mentioned the IAEA is developing a graded approach to recommendations for security in the transport of radioactive material other than nuclear materials. IAEA actions will also address vitrified high-level waste. Meetings of experts in 2002 and 2003 in Vienna have produced draft guidance on security of radioactive material in transport, which includes a three-level graded approach to categorization of materials. This draft guidance strives for consistency with the nuclear material security requirements of INFCIRC/225/Rev. 4, with the guidance on categorization of sources for safety and security of TECDOC (IAEA technical document) 1355, and the categorization of sources for emergency response purposes. Much work stills needs to be done. Over the next few months the IAEA will hold a series of meetings at which transport safety and security will be addressed. In July 2003 the IAEA sponsored an International Conference on the Safety of Transport of Radioactive Material, where a status report on security in transport was presented. Reports from IMO and ICAO, which cosponsored the conference, provide information on security. In October 2003 a Technical Meeting to Address Guidelines for Security in the Transport of Radioactive Material will review the draft proposed guidance and recommend changes to the text. Decisions will then be made as to which further actions are needed to issue the guidance as a TECDOC, the title of which is envisioned to be “Security in the Transport of Radioactive Material—Interim Guidance for Comment.” The final document will strive for agreement on categorization activity level per conveyance and proposed security measures by category. It is anticipated that the resulting guidance document will be published within a year. INTERNATIONAL LIABILITY Liability is an important consideration in any normal activity. Liability is especially important for activities that can have high environmental and financial

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An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility: Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype - Proceedings of an International Workshop consequences. Because of its complexity, liability is only broadly and briefly presented here. Safety and security requirements and recommendations establish the basic conditions under which transport activities are conducted. Attention is inevitably trained on transport when there is an accident that has the actual or perceived potential to cause significant physical harm to a population and financial harm to a community. Liability becomes a key issue in restoring a community to its preaccident condition. In the international liability regime adequate protection of the public from dangers of the application of radioactive material, including those associated with nuclear energy, must be maintained without hindering the development of the nuclear industry and the other beneficial uses of radioactive material. This situation normally limits the liability of any entity, with the country of the entity indemnifying or assuming responsibility for the cost the entity is required to pay. In the existing liability regime multiple conventions and agreements exist. A listing of these conventions and agreements is as follows: 1960 Paris Convention 1963 Vienna Convention 1963 Brussels Supplementary Convention 1971 Maritime Carriage of Nuclear Material Convention 1988 Joint Protocol 1997 Protocol to Amend the Vienna Convention 1997 Convention on Supplementary Compensation In addition to these conventions, the IAEA is planning to convene a group to discuss liability in the nuclear field. To date, neither the terms of reference for a meeting nor an actual meeting date have been established. INTERNATIONAL EXPERIENCE In spite of the many safety, security, and liability issues transport of radioactive material continues to grow. For the Workshop on the Problems of Managing Spent Nuclear Fuel and Selection of a Site for Its Storage, the IAEA was asked to provide an overview estimate of the worldwide experience in the packaging and transport of nuclear-power-plant-related irradiated nuclear fuel and high-level waste. The current information results from an evaluation performed in 1999–2000, reported in detail in the Proceedings of the International Symposium on the Packaging and Transportation of Radioactive Materials (PATRAM) 2001. A previous attempted study to collect shipping data was reported by IAEA in the Proceedings of PATRAM ’86.This study provided a mix of data, for example, materials and modes, which were judged to be incomplete. However, from the

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An International Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage Facility: Exploring a Russian Site as a Prototype - Proceedings of an International Workshop TABLE 1 Estimated Shipments of INF and HLW by all Modes Shipmentsa Estimated Quantity (MTHM) Estimated Flask Shipments LWR/Magnox/AGR to Sellafield and The Hague 50,000–75,0000 18,500–37,100 Other in France 10,518 >125 Canada–Japan (other than to Sellafield/The Hague) 1100 557 Slovakia 239–380 635–700 Sweden (domestic) 3300 1100 Ukraine 1300 300 United States 2274 3025 HLW from The Hague 520 8 Approximate Totals ~70,000–95,000 24,000–43,000 aEstimate through 2000, worldwide, excluding Russian Federation. data in this study one could determine that an estimated 18 to 38 million packages of radioactive material are transported each year. For this presentation a less extensive review was done. The collected data on spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and HLW shipments was obtained by personal contacts and the published literature. Contacts included consignors, carriers, consignees, and competent authorities. Data show that multiple types of INF have been transported, including light water reactors (LWR), such as pressurized water reactors and boiling water reactors; gas cooled reactors, such as magnox, advanced gas reactors (AGR), and graphite reactors; and other types of reactors, including high-power channel reactors (RBMK), Canada deuterium uranium reactors (CANDU), high-temperature reactors (HTR), and fast breeder reactors (FBR). It is estimated that between 24,000 and 35,000 flask shipments have been made. Table 1 summarizes the data collected. SUMMARY The thousands of shipments of spent fuel and high-level waste have been performed safely and efficiently. Requirements in place ensure that the robustness of the package provides the first line of defense to materials being released to the environment. To date, there has been no harm to any individual as a result of the contents in the package. This record is not exceeded by the transport of any other hazard class. As the need to transport spent fuel and high-level waste increases, the transport community must be diligent in transporting the materials. All regulations, including package and communication requirements, must be followed.