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TRANSPORTATION & STORAGE OF IRRADIATED FUEL AND NUCLEAR WASTE

The transportation and storage of large quantities of high-level radioactive waste is a heated issue scientifically, economically, and politically. 


Since 1975, Dr. Resnikoff has been analyzing the problems associated with the transportation and storage of radioactive materials. We have long advocated increased assurances of the safety of transport containers or casks, and have prepared risk and consequence assessments for various scenarios involving irradiated fuel transport, especially in the case of an accident or sabotage event.


In conjunction with community organizations and State governments (Idaho, Nevada, New Mexico, New York, and Utah), we continue to evaluate the risks associated with transporting and storing nuclear waste.


Storage Cask Vulnerability to Accident and Sabotage

RWMA has produced numerous studies questioning the Department of Energy's long-held notion that the containers used to transport irradiated fuel and high-level radioactive waste are "virtually indestructible".


Through the use of the Department of Energy's risk assessment programs, including RADTRAN and RISKIND, we have evaluated the likely health impacts of serious accidents during irradiated fuel transportation by road and rail.   Additionally, we have calculated the likely health consequences that would result from successful sabotage attacks on shipments of high-level radioactive waste.


Transportation of Irradiated Fuel

In light of the Department of Energy's commitment to a high-level waste repository in Nevada and centralized storage facilities in New Mexico and Texas, the number of shipments of radioactive materials will undoubtedly increase.  These shipments will use the nation's highways and railways, passing through urban centers and densely populated areas with large quantities of toxic material.


RWMA has performed extensive analyses of the risks and consequences of irradiated fuel transportation and storage for the states of Utah, Nevada, Idaho, New York and New Mexico. We have estimated the likely transportation routes from power reactors to proposed waste facilities and the corresponding risks associated with accidents and sabotage along these routes.


Economic Impact of Transportation Accidents

RWMA has used the risk programs developed by the Department of Energy in estimating the probable economic impacts of an accident involving a vehicle carrying irradiated fuel or high-level radioactive waste. 


We have critiqued the Department of Energy’s estimates of the economic impacts of severe accidents and sabotage in its most recent transportation studies; our analyses indicate a cause for concern, as the cost of cleanup would be enormous.

 

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Radioactive Waste Management Associates