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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States APPENDIX C Federal Repository Transportation System This appendix describes the system for transporting spent fuel and high-level radioactive waste to a federal repository at Yucca Mountain, Nevada. It is provided to support the discussions of this transportation system that appear in Chapter 5. C.1 PRINCIPAL ELEMENTS OF A REPOSITORY TRANSPORTATION SYSTEM The system for transporting spent fuel and high-level waste to a federal repository at Yucca Mountain will involve train and truck transport from sites across the continental United States (see Figure 1.1). A good deal of the complexity of this system is the unanticipated consequence of the siting process that was established in the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (NWPA).1 When writing the NWPA, Congress did not consider the availability of transportation routes or the distance of transport from spent fuel and high-level waste storage sites to the repository. The 1987 amendments to the Nuclear Waste Policy Act fixed the end point of the transportation system at Yucca Mountain, Nevada—a state that has no commercial nuclear power plants and is geographically distant from most spent fuel and high-level 1 The “Nuclear Waste Policy Act of 1982,” P.L. 97-425 (January 7, 1983) and amendments (P.L. 100-203, Subtitle A [December 22, 1987]; P.L. 100-507 [October 18, 1988]; and P.L. 102-486 [October 24, 1992]).
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States waste storage sites (Figure 1.1). The Yucca Mountain site also lacks good existing transportation access, especially rail access. The NWPA establishes that the federal government is responsible for developing and operating the transportation and disposal programs, and the owners of spent fuel and high-level waste are financially responsible for covering transport and disposal costs (Table C.1). The NWPA vests authority with the Secretary of Energy for carrying out the federal government’s responsibilities and establishes the Nuclear Waste Fund to cover the costs of disposal. TABLE C.1 Responsibilities Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act for Storage of Spent Fuel and High-Level Waste and Their Transport to a Federal Repository Commercial Spent Fuel DOE Spent Fuel and High-Level Wastea Naval Spent Fuel On-site storage Spent fuel owners DOE-EM DOE-NR Costs of transport and disposal at a federal repository Spent fuel owners DOE-EM DOE-NR Development of a federal repository DOE-OCRWM DOE-OCRWM DOE-OCRWM Transportation to a federal repository DOE-OCRWM DOE-OCRWM DOE-NR Package certification USNRC USNRC DOE-NR, USNRCb Advance shipping notifications of states and tribes required? Yes Yes No Emergency responder training DOE supported DOE supported DOE supported NOTE: DOE-EM = Office of Environmental Management; DOE-NR = Naval Reactors Program; DOE-OCRWM = Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management. aIncludes research reactor spent fuel described in Chapter 4. bDOE seeks USNRC concurrence on package certifications under a cost-reimbursable agreement.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States The NWPA also establishes the authorities of the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC) as well as the roles of states and tribal nations. It requires that the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) transport spent fuel and high-level waste only in packages that have been certified by the USNRC (see Chapter 2). It also requires DOE to follow USNRC regulations for advance notifications of state and local governments prior to transport of these materials. Further, it requires DOE to provide technical assistance and funding to states for training of appropriate units of local government and Indian tribes through whose jurisdictions the Secretary of Energy plans to transport spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste. This training is to cover procedures for safe routine transportation and emergency response. The NWPA explicitly recognizes the precedence of existing federal, state, and local transportation laws: “Sec. 9: Nothing in this Act shall be construed to affect Federal, State, or local laws pertaining to the transportation of spent nuclear fuel or high-level radioactive waste.” Indeed, as described elsewhere in this appendix, there are many additional laws and regulations that apply to the national transportation program for Yucca Mountain. Section 304 of the NWPA establishes the Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management within the Department of Energy (DOE-OCRWM) to carry out the waste disposal function. Within this office, the Office of National Transportation is taking the lead for developing a national transportation program for Yucca Mountain.2 The Office of Civilian Radioactive Waste Management will be responsible for transporting both commercial spent fuel and DOE spent fuel (except naval spent fuel) and high-level waste to the repository. The Naval Reactors Program (DOE-NR) will transport its own spent fuel to the repository. The DOE-OCRWM Office of National Transportation is responsible for performing the following tasks: Develop a national transportation plan that specifies schedules, modes, and routes for shipping spent fuel to the repository. Build the necessary infrastructure (e.g., a rail line in Nevada; road upgrades as necessary) to support the transportation program. Purchase the necessary equipment (e.g., transport packages, tractor-trailers, and railcars) to support the transportation program. Hire transportation contractors to operate the transportation program. 2 DOE-OCRWM was undergoing a reorganization in early 2006. The new office structure had not been announced when the present report was completed.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States Establish a federal oversight program to ensure that transportation operations comply with all applicable federal, state, and local regulations. DOE issued the Standard Contract for Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel and/or High-Level Radioactive Waste (Title 10, Part 961 of the Code of Federal Regulations) that describes how it expects to carry out its responsibilities under the NWPA. These regulations establish a “standard contract” to be signed by the Secretary of Energy and owners of commercial spent fuel, who are referred to as “purchasers” of DOE’s services. The standard contract lays out the responsibilities of the purchasers and the DOE in carrying out the provisions under the contract. These responsibilities are summarized in Sidebar 5.1 and are discussed elsewhere in this appendix. A flowchart for the national transportation system is illustrated schematically in Figure C.1A, and the organizations responsible for the system components are shown in Figure C.1B. Regulatory authorities are shown in Figure C.1C. The components of the system are described below. C.1.1 System Planning Three primary planning functions must be completed before the transportation system can be put into operation: procurement of equipment and other needed infrastructure; scheduling the acceptance of spent fuel and high-level waste from its owners; and identifying the routes to be used for shipping this material to the federal repository and undertaking any necessary upgrades to such routes. These planning functions are described in the following subsections. Procurement DOE plans to use the nation’s existing roads and railways to ship to the repository,3 but it may be required at its own expense to upgrade roads and rail access to plant sites or to provide heavy-haul or barge access to railheads. There is no rail spur to Yucca Mountain in Nevada, for example, so DOE will have to build one to support its decision to ship by “mostly rail.” DOE has selected the location for the rail spur in Nevada (see Chapter 5) but has not yet completed a detailed route survey or the supplemental Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) that is required prior to the initiation of construction. The rail spur is expected to take several years to 3 As described further in this appendix and in Chapter 5, rail access to the repository does not now exist, so DOE will be required to build a rail spur to the repository in Nevada. DOE may also be required to build a road to the repository from the nearest highway to support truck transport.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States FIGURE C.1A National Transportation System
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States FIGURE C.1B Organizational responsiblilities.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States FIGURE C.1C Regulatory authorities.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States construct at a DOE-estimated cost of $2 billion. Congress must appropriate the necessary construction funds to undertake this work. DOE is also responsible for procuring the reusable transport packages that it will use to ship spent fuel and high-level waste to the repository. A variety of package designs may be needed to accommodate existing spent fuel and high-level waste types. There are certified packages available for commercial spent fuel transport (see Chapter 3) that could be purchased by DOE. In May 2004, DOE issued purchase orders to vendors possessing current USNRC certificates of compliance for transport packages to finance studies on the vendors’ capabilities to take possession of spent fuel at nuclear power plant sites and deliver it to Yucca Mountain. However, in late 2005, DOE announced plans to develop a standardized package design for its federal repository transportation program. The process for procuring transport packages will likely take several years, especially if new package designs are needed. The Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires that new package designs be certified by the USNRC, which will add additional time to the acquisition process. Procurement of waste packages, which will cost on the order of $1 million each, also will require timely appropriations from Congress. A substantial transportation fleet must be acquired to meet DOE’s stated intention to ship to the repository at a steady-state rate of 3000 metric tons per year (see Table 5.1). DOE will also have to procure purpose-built railcars and tractor-trailers (and possibly tractors) to transport these packages. These also will be designed and fabricated by private vendors. As described in Section 5.3, DOE’s schedule for these activities is changing because of delays in completing the license application for the federal repository. The equipment purchase decision is a complex systems problem within the broader transportation system and depends on several factors, for example: Modal decisions. Fundamentally different kinds and quantities of equipment will be required depending on the number of truck and train shipments to be made. This in turn will depend on the availability of rail access at each of the shipping sites and at Yucca Mountain. Shipping rates. There must be sufficient equipment to support the envisaged steady-state shipping rate of 3000 metric tons per year within a few years of the start of repository operations. This is equivalent to about 200 to 300 rail package shipments per year or 1500 truck package shipments per year. Contingencies. Spare equipment will be needed to allow for maintenance, “deadhead” shipments of packages and conveyances from the repository to spent fuel and high-level waste storage sites, and unanticipated equipment failures.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States The Nuclear Waste Policy Act requires that DOE use private contractors “to the extent feasible” for the repository program. Indeed, DOE has announced its intention to use private contractors to run its national transportation program. However, DOE has not yet decided on the structure for contractor operations. In 1998, DOE issued a notice that it intended to divide the country into regions, each serviced by a “Regional Service Contractor.” This plan was never implemented. In 2002, DOE issued another notice that it planned to issue a request for proposals for a single management and operating contractor to run the entire transportation program. It retracted this notice after receiving unfavorable comments. DOE has yet to announce what contracting approach it will pursue. Once DOE decides which approach to use, it could take one or more years to hire a contractor using the usual DOE procurement processes. Once a contractor is selected, additional time will be required to develop the procedures to be used in the transportation program. The contractor will also have to hire and train workers to follow these procedures. Scheduling DOE must develop a schedule for accepting spent nuclear fuel and high-level waste from commercial and DOE sites for transportation to the repository. The schedule will based on two factors: (1) the order in which spent fuel or high-level waste is to be accepted from its owners (see Sidebar 5.2); and (2) the rate at which fuel can be shipped to the repository. The shipping rate will be based on several factors, but an important rate-controlling step is likely to be the capacity at the repository for receiving and unloading transportation packages. The availability of packages and other transport equipment also could become a rate-limiting step, especially if unexpected system upsets (e.g., equipment malfunctions) are encountered. There also could be site-specific shipping delays owing to equipment malfunctions and interference with reactor operations. Routing Two types of route planning are required to make the transportation system functional. The first is to assess whether the routes at the shipping and receiving ends of the system are adequate to accommodate shipments using trains, the preferred DOE shipping mode. If not, upgrades will be required before shipments can be made. DOE is in the process of planning a Nevada rail route, as noted previously. Road upgrades also may be needed in Nevada to support truck transport to the repository. A second, more detailed route planning function must be carried out for each shipment of spent fuel and high-level waste. Railroads operate
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States almost entirely on private right of way. At present, there are few regulatory restrictions on railroads’ freedom to select routes for spent fuel and high-level waste shipments according to their own determinations of operational suitability and safety.4 Such restrictions might be imposed through contractual or voluntary agreements between DOE and the railroads. If the shipment is to be made by truck, route selection is based on Department of Transportation (DOT) regulations described in Chapter 2 and Chapter 4. DOE’s current plans regarding mode and route selection, legal and regulatory restrictions on those decisions, and the states’ concerns regarding routing are examined in Chapter 5. C.1.2 Package and Load Spent fuel and high-level waste owners are responsible for loading their waste into transportation packages at their sites. DOE-OCRWM is responsible for delivering empty packages to the sites to be loaded and can, at its option, observe the loading operations. The standard waste contracts require that DOE develop procedures for package loading and also provide the necessary training to sites for such loading and any associated package maintenance. These procedures would presumably be developed by the transportation contractor. Under the terms of DOE’s standard contracts with utilities, each shipment of spent fuel from a generator’s site to the repository will involve the mass equivalent of one reactor core “offload,” that is, the amount of spent fuel discharged from the reactor each time the core is reloaded with fresh nuclear fuel. Commercial power plants typically discharge about a third of a reactor core during each offload. This amounts to about 30 metric tons (33 short tons) of spent fuel for a typical 100 metric ton (110 short ton) reactor core. These offloads were commonly made on an annual basis, but they are now typically made every two years as technologies have been implemented for increasing fuel utilization.5 4 This autonomy sometimes causes public controversy. In 2004–2005, for example, the train transport of chlorine tank cars through Washington, D.C., within blocks of the U.S. Capitol building, was the subject of controversy and led to an unsuccessful attempt by city government to restrict such shipments. The railroad announced that it had voluntarily rerouted some of these shipments around the city. 5 The utilization of nuclear fuel is referred to as “burn-up,” usually given in terms of the total amount of electricity (megawatt-days) that is generated from each metric ton of uranium in the fuel. Burn-ups on the order of 25,000 megawatt-days per metric ton were achieved during the early days of nuclear power generation. Today, technology improvements allow burn-ups approaching 60,000 megawatt days per metric ton to be achieved. Because of such increased burn-ups, the nuclear fuel in reactors requires less frequent replacement.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States A single core offload will be transported to the federal repository in several packages. A typical rail package holds about 10 metric tons (11 short tons) of spent fuel, so a 30 metric ton (33 short ton) core offload would fit into two or three packages. A truck package typically holds about 2 metric tons (2.2 short tons) of spent fuel, so a single core offload would fill 15 or more packages. A site must be capable of handling multiple packages and conveyances for each shipping campaign it plans to make. There will be strong pressure from generators to ship full packages for reasons of economic efficiency, but there are likely to be many instances when the spent fuel to be shipped from a site results in less than a full package. DOE and the industry have not yet worked out arrangements for resolving this issue. The industry maintains that it wants the transportation system to run efficiently and will work with DOE to ensure that it does. Owners are responsible for providing infrastructure for loading transportation packages for shipment to the repository. At operating commercial nuclear power plants, packages would be loaded under water in existing spent fuel pools. The packages would be moved in and out of the pools using existing overhead cranes. The overhead cranes at some plants will have to be upgraded to handle rail packages if the site intends to ship by that mode. Those packages can weigh in excess of 100 metric tons (110 short tons) when fully loaded, versus the 25 metric ton (28 short ton) weight for typical truck packages. Several nuclear power plants, including decommissioned plants that no longer have operating spent fuel pools, have large quantities of fuel in dry-cask storage. Some of this fuel is stored in single-purpose packages that are not directly suitable for transportation. Special equipment (e.g., package over packs) or one-time variances from the USNRC will be needed to transport these packages to the repository. Otherwise, this fuel will have to be removed from the storage casks and reloaded into a package certified for transport. This will require access to pool space or heavily shielded dry-transfer facilities. Owners are also responsible for providing access infrastructure within their plant sites so that the transport packages can be delivered and picked up. All commercial nuclear power plants have road access, and most, but not all, have rail access. Some plants may have to upgrade or add rail spurs if they choose to ship by that mode. DOE will have to assess and, where necessary, make improvements to roads and rails outside plant sites so that package deliveries and spent fuel pickups can be made. The type of access available at each site will help determine what transport mode is selected. Sites that have adequate access to rail lines will likely ship by that mode using packages designed to be transported on railcars. Sites without rail access could ship by truck using packages de-
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States signed to be transported on truck trailers. Legal-weight truck6 shipments could be made over most of the nation’s highways. Overweight truck shipments would require special permits issued by states and would be restricted to routes with appropriate load ratings. Alternatively, rail packages could be transported by heavy-haul truck7 (again with state permits using load-rated highways) or by barge8 over water to nearby railheads if the necessary infrastructure improvements are in place or can be made. DOE is responsible for the costs of such improvements. DOE’s Office of Environmental Management (DOE-EM) will be responsible for packaging its defense and research reactor spent fuel and high-level waste for shipment to the repository. All of the DOE sites that will ship this waste have rail access, but package-loading facilities may have to be constructed at some of these sites. C.1.3 Inspect and Accept Once loaded, the owner must place the spent fuel or high-level waste package onto the DOE-provided conveyance (i.e., typically railcars or trailers). This will be done at the owner’s site using the owner’s equipment. DOE-OCRWM will then perform an inspection to determine if the shipment is “transport ready.” If so, it will accept the package for transport to the repository. Ownership of the spent fuel or high-level waste passes to DOE-OCRWM at the plant gate. DOE told the committee that its current plans are to transport an average of three packages per rail shipment. This is approximately the number of train packages needed to ship a full core reload. DOE could, however, accept a larger or smaller number of packages in each shipment, or even partially full packages—there is no physical constraint that limits a 6 A legal-weight truck is a truck that complies with all state and federal truck weight regulations and therefore does not require any special permits to operate. In almost all cases, legal-weight trucks would be limited to 80,000 pounds (about 36 metric tons) gross weight (i.e., the weight of the vehicle and cargo) and could carry a cargo of about 50,000 pounds (about 23 metric tons). 7 In the context of the Yucca Mountain transportation problem, a heavy-haul truck is a highway vehicle capable of carrying a rail shipping package. Such a truck would weigh in excess of 200,000 pounds (about 90 metric tons) empty, plus the weight of the package when loaded. 8 Even if barge access is available, DOE may not be able to ship by this mode due to state and public opposition. Such opposition appears to be especially strong in the upper Midwest, particularly for shipments that would utilize the Great Lakes. The committee was told that barge transport appears to be more acceptable in the southeastern United States, where such shipments for the disposal of low-level waste are already being made.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States single train shipment to three packages. DOE could, in principle, combine packages from several sites into a single shipment by moving packages to nearby rail yards for makeup of single trains. There will likely be strong pressure to minimize time in transit, which could encourage shipments from single sites directly to the repository, and to minimize the consolidation of shipments from multiple sites into single trains. On the other hand, there might be pressure from transit states to consolidate shipments to reduce the total number of trips. C.1.4 Transport The transport of spent fuel and high-level waste from storage sites to the repository will be a complicated process involving DOE; its contractors; regulatory authorities; and state, tribal, and local authorities. Each shipment or shipping campaign9 must be planned well in advance; the exact planning requirements will depend to a great extent on the transportation mode selected. Although DOE has decided on a mostly rail transportation program, the possibility still exists that trucks will play a significant role. For truck shipments, the transportation contractor, in consultation with DOE, would select a route from DOT’s approved list of preferred or alternate preferred routes (see Chapter 4). The latter are designated by states. The highway routes selected are most likely to be Interstate System highways and bypasses around cities. The transportation contractor would then pick up the shipment at the owner’s site and transport it to Yucca Mountain. The only planned stops during transport would be for inspections, refueling, maintenance, and crew rests and changes. For train shipments, the railroad will select the route to be used probably in consultation with the contractor and DOE. DOE could impose restrictions on the route—for example, to reduce time in transport, to minimize transport through tunnels or densely populated areas, or to avoid poor-quality tracks—but this might increase shipping costs. There is no state or local control over routing decisions. The Western Interstate Energy Board has examined the possibility of state regulation of routing of spent fuel train shipments, but no state has acted and the limits of state powers to regulate such matters have not been legally determined (WIEB, 1995, Pp. 34–36, Pp. 45–47). 9 A shipping campaign consists of a number of shipments from a single site to the federal repository over a fixed period of time. Such campaigns are likely for truck transport but less likely for train transport unless a number of core offloads (each of which could be shipped to the repository using a single train) are planned for consecutive shipment.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States Regardless of mode, actual transportation operations would be carried out by private trucking or railroad companies under contract to DOE. In principle, a single trucking firm could handle all truck shipments to the repository, because highways are publicly owned. This would not be the case for train shipments, however, because railroad rights of way are privately owned. DOE would have to contract with the rail operator who owns the tracks with direct access to the shipping site. That operator would pick up the shipment and move it to the end of its line. From there it would be transferred to the rail operator who owns the next segment of track. Several such transfers might take place to move a single shipment from the owner’s site to the repository. DOE has yet to develop procedures or hire contractors for shipping to the repository. These tasks would presumably be handled by the transportation contractor. En Route Inspections States have primary responsibility for enforcing highway safety regulations concerning federal motor carrier safety and hazardous materials transportation. Consequently, truck shipments of spent fuel and high-level waste to the repository would be subject to state inspection, and each shipment could potentially receive separate inspections by each state. State enforcement officials can stop and inspect vehicles and inspect the premises of motor carriers to check for compliance with federal and state requirements regarding equipment, documentation, and driver fitness. States can also require carriers to obtain special permits to operate these vehicles and charge fees for such permits. However, the federal hazardous materials transportation law is explicit that federal rules preempt state rules in cases of conflict (49 USC 5125), consistent with the goal of nationally uniform regulation. DOT has administrative authority to determine when state rules are to be preempted. For example, DOT has determined that state requirements for special permits for radioactive materials highway shipments are preempted if they require documentation or prenotification in excess of federal requirements. DOT also has determined that state fees imposed on hazardous materials transport are preempted if they are excessive or if the revenue is not used for purposes related to hazardous materials transport. Additionally, DOT has determined that state routing requirements for highway radioactive materials transport are preempted if they are not identical with federal requirements (Buren, 1998). Regulation of the safety and operation of railroads is dominated by the federal government. Railroad shipments of spent fuel and high-level waste are not subject to state regulation, but they are subject to inspection by
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States DOT’s Federal Railroad Administration (FRA). The FRA is generally responsible for safety regulations governing the design and maintenance of track, signals, and equipment; railroad operating practices; hazardous materials handling; and rail worker safety practices and qualifications.10 Enforcement is by railroad self-inspections, which are audited by Federal Railroad Administration inspectors with the participation of administration-certified state inspectors. In 1998, the Federal Railroad Administration published the report Safety Compliance Oversight Plan for Rail Transportation of High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel (FRA, 1998) as a comprehensive definition of FRA activities to ensure the safety of rail transport of these materials. The plan is a statement of policy rather than a regulation. It was developed to guide the FRA’s involvement in DOE’s Foreign Research Reactor Spent Fuel Program, but it is also intended to be applicable to future shipments to a federal repository or to temporary storage. The plan requires coordination among the Federal Railroad Administration, DOE, utilities, railroads, and the states. The elements of this plan are grouped in three activity areas: planning, inspections, and training. The planning provisions require the shipper to notify the Federal Railroad Administration with carrier and route information at least 90 days before the initial shipment. The FRA will inspect the track and will consult with DOE and the shipper and carrier on route selection. The plan highlights physical track quality as a route selection criterion. The Federal Railroad Administration will also assist states in estimating highway-rail grade-crossing accident risks along the route. Other provisions of this plan involve inspections by FRA personnel of all equipment, a requirement for administration personnel to be present in the railroad’s dispatch center during each movement of spent fuel or high-level waste, and training for railroad personnel and emergency responders. Security DOE-OCRWM is responsible for providing security for its shipments of spent fuel and high-level waste. Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, DOE is required to follow the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s regulations in 10 CFR 73.37: Requirements for the Physical Protection of Irradiated Reactor Fuel in Transport. These regulations address the establishment of a physical protection system that minimizes the possibility for radiological sabotage of spent fuel shipments, especially within heavily 10 These regulations are promulgated in Title 49, Parts 200-245 of the Code of Federal Regulations.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States populated regions, and facilitates the location and recovery of spent fuel shipments that come under the control of unauthorized persons. The regulations require that the shipper take the following steps: Notify the USNRC in advance of each shipment. Part 73.72 requires that such notifications be received at least 10 days prior to the initiation of such shipments. Make arrangements with local law enforcement agencies along the route of each shipment for their response to an emergency or call for assistance. Obtain advance approval by the USNRC of the routes to be used. The Commission will physically survey the routes and issue an approval to use them for a fixed time period. Plan shipments so that scheduled intermediate stops are avoided to the extent practicable. Provide trained escorts for the shipments and require that these escorts make calls to a communications center at least every two hours to provide a shipment status. Escort requirements are specified according to mode and route. Truck transport within a heavily populated region11 is required to be occupied by a driver and at least one escort, and to be escorted by an armed member of local law enforcement in a mobile unit. Alternatively, a vehicle occupied only by a driver is required to be escorted by lead and trailing vehicles containing at least one armed escort each. A road transport vehicle not in a heavily populated region is required to have an escort on board or to be escorted by a vehicle that contains at least two escorts. Escorts must be capable of communicating with the communications center, local law enforcement, and each other. The transport vehicle must be equipped with USNRC-approved features that permit immobilization of the cab or cargo-carrying portion of the vehicle. Additional security measures were required by the USNRC after September 11, 2001. These requirements have not been made public. Shipments by train within heavily populated regions must be accompanied by two armed escorts, at least one of whom is stationed on the train to 11 The more stringent requirements for transporting spent fuel through heavily populated regions were developed based on the “urban studies” completed by Sandia for the USNRC (DuCharme et al., 1978; Finley et al., 1980; Sandoval et al., 1983; Sandoval, 1987). These studies suggested that sabotage of spent fuel transport packages in urban areas could have significant negative consequences. Consequently, the Commission requires tighter security for spent fuel transport through such areas. The USNRC is undertaking additional vulnerability studies in response to the September 11, 2001, attacks.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States permit direct observation of the package railcar while in motion. Shipments by rail in regions that are not heavily populated must be accompanied by at least one escort stationed on the train to permit such direct observation. These escorts must have the capability to communicate with the communications center and local law enforcement. Regulations also require that the shipper notify the governor or governor’s designee of each state through which the shipment will pass. This notification must be postmarked at least seven days before the shipment reaches the state or be delivered by messenger at least four days in advance. The notification must include a description of the shipment, a listing of the routes to be used within the state, the estimated time of departure from the point of origin of the shipment,12 and the date and time of entry into the state. Subsequent timely notifications are required if the schedule changes by more than six hours. All spent fuel and high-level waste shipments to the repository will have DOE- or contractor-provided security escorts and, in addition to the USNRC requirements described previously, will be tracked using a global positioning system (GPS) to provide real-time monitoring of the locations of all shipments. GPS tracking is currently in use for other DOE waste shipments, including shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant in New Mexico. The information on location and status of shipments is made available to states when shipments are within their geographic boundaries. Emergency Response An emergency responder is any individual trained to provide assistance at the scene of an accident. The first emergency responder at the scene of a transportation accident might be the transport vehicle driver. The carrier (whether truck or rail) is responsible for providing the first line of emergency response should an accident or terrorist attack occur. This would include preventing the spread of contamination at the site of the accident; preventing individuals from coming into contact with spilled materials; and preventing contaminated vehicles or equipment from being used until they have been surveyed and, if necessary, decontaminated. The carrier also is responsible for notifying local authorities, the shipper, and applicable federal agencies of the accident and providing whatever additional assistance is required. State, tribal, and local governments play a preeminent role in emergency response and preparedness. They provide the first line of government 12 The state is to keep this information protected in accordance with 10 CFR 73.21 until at least 10 days after the shipment entered or originated within the state or, for a series of shipments, 10 days after the last shipment.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States response to emergencies involving chemically hazardous and radioactive materials and can call on other levels of government for assistance as circumstances require. Their level of readiness varies nationally. Some require minimal technical assistance, whereas others will act only to secure the accident scene and evacuate endangered populations while awaiting technical assistance. The first government responder will likely be a member of a public safety department such as sworn police officer or firefighter, or both, from the jurisdiction where the accident is located. Specialized teams (i.e., a “hazmat team”) attached to the jurisdiction’s emergency services agency, or from neighboring communities when mutual aid agreements are in effect, may be dispatched to the site in the event of an accident involving hazardous cargo. Except in national defense incidents, the local government and the on-scene commander are responsible for incident command and control. The local authority (usually a government entity such as a city or county) will establish an on-scene “incident commander” to direct the response and ensure that all needed resources are made available. If the emergency needs outstrip the resources of the jurisdiction, the incident commander will work with authorities to summon additional assistance. This could include trained teams from adjacent jurisdictions that are activated through prearranged mutual assistance agreements; state and federal response teams; and private organizations. The Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is the responsible federal agency for incident response. At the direction of the President of the United States, DHS has instituted the National Incident Management System (NIMS), which is intended to become the national command and control system for responding to incidents of any nature in the homeland. The President has issued a number of Homeland Security Presidential Directives (HSPDs)13 to implement NIMS, and governors and state legislatures have also been requested to adopt this system. The federal government has established 2006 as the deadline for national compliance. The NIMS establishes a National Response Plan, which tasks all federal agencies and establishes operational standards and procedures for responding to incidents.14 Under this plan, the Secretary of Homeland Security, acting as the principal federal official, or a federal official designated by the secretary as a federal coordinating officer, can direct federal assis- 13 HSPD-5 designates the Secretary of the Department of Homeland Security as the principal federal official for hazards preparedness, response, and recovery anywhere in the United States. HSPD-8 implements NIMS, defines national preparedness goals, and provides a National Uniform Task List for all hazards. 14 The National Response Plan replaces the Federal Response Plan, which was an agreement among federal agencies on a management process for responding to incidents.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States tance and resources to the on-scene incident commander. The governor of the state in which the incident occurs will appoint a state coordinating officer to direct and control state assets and request federal assistance on behalf of the on-scene commander. The federal government also is the primary provider of training to the nation’s firefighters and emergency management personnel through the National Emergency Training Center in Emmitsburg, Maryland. This center houses the National Fire Academy, which provides training to the nation’s firefighters, and the Emergency Management Institute, which serves as the national focal point for executive-level emergency management training. These organizations provide resident and nonresident training; the latter includes Web-based training and other distance training using video tapes and other instructional materials. The Department of Transportation, in cooperation with Canadian and Mexican transportation organizations, has developed the Emergency Response Guidebook (DOT, 2004) for use by emergency responders during the initial phase of a dangerous goods or hazardous materials incident. It was developed to help responders quickly identify actual or potential hazards in an incident and take steps to protect themselves and the public during the initial phases of a response. Federal regulations15 require that first responders be trained in the use of this guidebook. The Department of Energy provides technical assistance and training to emergency responders through its Transportation Emergency Preparedness Program (TEPP). Under the Nuclear Waste Policy Act, DOE is responsible for providing emergency responder training assistance along routes that will be used to ship spent fuel and high-level waste to the repository. This program is described in Chapter 5. DOE plans to initiate this training assistance once it identifies transport routes. The Institute for Nuclear Power Operations (INPO16) has established voluntary agreements among the nation’s nuclear utilities to provide mutual assistance in the event of a radioactive materials transportation accident involving commercial spent fuel. Through these agreements, nuclear utilities located near the scene of an accident would provide technical advice and assistance to federal, state, and local emergency responders regardless of who owns the spent fuel involved in the accident. 15 These are provided in 29 CFR 1910.120 and 40 CFR Part 311. 16 INPO was formed by the nuclear power industry in 1979 as a result of the Three Mile Island Unit 2 accident near Harrisburg, Pennsylvania. Its purpose is to promote the safety and reliability of nuclear power plant operations. INPO sets performance guidelines and objectives for nuclear power plant operations; conducts evaluations of plant performance; and accredits utility training programs for plant operators and supervisors. All U.S. nuclear power plant operators are members of this organization, and nuclear plant operators in other countries are participants.
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States C.1.5 Inspect and Unload Once the shipment reaches the repository, the package will be removed from its conveyance and unloaded. A surface facility at the repository site will be constructed for this purpose. The package unloading function will be handled by the repository contractor as part of disposal system operations. The rate of unloading will be governed by the availability of surface storage and the rate at which spent fuel and high-level waste can be moved to storage or emplaced underground. This rate will help determine the transport package procurement strategy. DOE-OCRWM is responsible for constructing facilities for receiving and unloading waste packages at the repository and maintaining the packages and conveyance equipment. DOE will include the design of these facilities in its application to the USNRC for a repository construction license. Construction of these facilities could take several years. C.1.6 Maintenance Once the package has been unloaded, it and its conveyance would be inspected for wear and damage, and maintenance would be performed as required. They would then be returned to service. Empty packages and conveyances would be sent to the next site in the waste acceptance queue. While DOE-OCRWM has not yet determined where it will carry out this maintenance activity, it sees advantages in locating this facility at or near the Yucca Mountain site. DOE-OCRWM noted that it also does not yet have a design for such a maintenance facility. The design requirements will depend on the mix of transport modes employed (i.e., train versus truck), because this will affect the size and throughput of transport packages. DOE-OCRWM may find that it needs more than one facility to service a national transportation program, given the amount of equipment involved and the geographic extent of its planned operations. The transportation program in the United Kingdom, for example, has one maintenance facility for locomotives, two geographically separated facilities for maintaining railcars, and yet another facility for maintaining its transportation packages. C.2 DISCUSSION As described in the foregoing sections, the system to transport spent fuel and high-level waste to a federal repository will involve a large number of operations, responsible parties, and interdependencies. Many of the major decisions that have to be made to establish this system are under DOE-OCRWM’s direct control, most notably modal and routing decisions, equip-
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Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States ment purchases, and contractor selections. Of course, establishment of this system is dependent on DOE’s ability to obtain a license to construct and operate the repository, including surface facilities to handle spent fuel and high-level waste shipments, and to obtain adequate appropriations from Congress for procuring equipment and hiring contractors. One of the most important decisions in the transportation program—the order for accepting spent fuel from generators—is established by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (see Sidebar 5.2). It has no geographic coherence, and neither will the transport system developed to accommodate it. Spent fuel is likely to be transported to the repository simultaneously from several parts of the country along several different routes. It could be difficult for DOE to achieve efficiencies with respect to many of its transport operations, most notably route planning and emergency responder training, if it has no legal control of the acceptance order. The national transportation program was in the early stages of development when this report was being written. Most of the planning and a great deal of the infrastructure will have to be developed from scratch, most notably the following: The back-end facilities at the repository for handling the packages and conveyances have not been licensed or constructed. A rail route has not been constructed in Nevada. The packages and conveyances to move the spent fuel and high-level waste have not yet been ordered. New designs may have to be developed for some of this equipment. New package designs will require certification by the USNRC. DOE will not be able to fully determine its package needs until it has updated data on rail and heavy-haul access to owner’s sites (see Chapter 5). DOE has not yet decided on contractor roles in the program, nor has it advertised for a transportation contractor. Procedures for loading and moving spent fuel and high-level waste have not yet been established. DOE has not yet selected routes so that emergency responder training can begin. Many states, including Nevada, have yet to specify alternate preferred routes for truck shipments. Procedures, facilities, and criteria for inspection and maintenance of packages and conveyances have not been developed. In short, the national transportation program is very much a work in progress. The committee makes several recommendations in Chapter 5 for improving this transportation program.