The Transportation of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste

A Systematic Basis for Planning and Management at the National, Regional, and Community Levels

Prepared By
Planning Information Corporation
Denver, Colorado
September, 1996

Reader’s Note: This report builds on past work by the State of Nevada and the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) in attempting to clarify how spent nuclear fuel and other high-level radioactive waste shipments would impact states and communities around the country. The report concludes that, if shipments are required to begin within the next three years (as would be the case under legislation now before Congress), as many as 79,300 truck shipments would be required to move spent fuel and highly radioactive wastes from reactor sites around the country to a storage facility in Nevada. Those shipments would involve 62.3 million cumulative miles on 13,700 linear miles of the nation’s public highways. Another 12,600 rail shipments totaling 14 million miles on 18,800 linear miles of the country’s railroad would also be needed. The report examines “current capabilities” with regard to reactor sites, equipment (e.g. the containers or casks that would be used to transport deadly spent fuel and high-level waste), and the existing transportation system and incorporates this information into projections about shipping types, numbers, and potential routes. Unlike optimistic scenarios promoted by DOE and the commercial nuclear power industry which assume that spent fuel and HLW can readily be shipped in large rail casks, thereby limiting the number of shipments and the numbers of communities affected, the report looks realistically at what capabilities currently exist - and are likely to exist by 1999 - with regard to the availability of rail and highway shipping casks; the ability to handle different size containers at reactor locations; rail access to originating sites for spent fuel shipments; which reactors would ship waste in the first three years and what their capabilities are for handling casks, rail access, and other variables; and mode (rail vs. truck) and routing realities as they exist today.

Prepared for
Nevada Nuclear Waste Project Office

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