Fact Sheet



The U. S. Department of Energy (DOE) is proposing to begin shipping spent nuclear fuel from foreign research reactors (under the old Atoms for Peace Program) to Savannah River, SC and Idaho Falls, ID (INEL) this year (1997). The first Savannah River shipments have already taken place (from the port of Charleston to Savannah River).

Route Map

For spent fuel being returned from Pacific Rim countries, DOE proposes to use the port of Concord, CA and ship the fuel by train through Sacramento and along the UP line to Salt Lake City and north to Idaho Falls (see attached map).

DOE projects a total of 4 - 5 train shipments through Concord (depending on the size and configuration of the shipping containers that are available), with the first shipment, comprised of spent fuel from South Korea and Indonesia, tentatively scheduled for mid 1998. The next shipment would not occur for at least two years. A shipment is defined as a single train carrying several spent fuel shipping containers. The proposed shipping date is a DOE estimate only and could be moved back to the first half of 1998 because of delays in planning and preparation.

With the UP/SP merger, the railroad will have the option of shipping the spent fuel either through Reno on the UP line or north along the Feather River route of the Southern Pacific line. The Feather River route is the one preferred by both DOE and Nevada since it avoids the Reno are entirely, but it does cross the Pyramid Lake Indian Reservation and runs parallel to the UP line through Lovelock, Winemucca, Calin, Elko. However, even if DOE and UP designate the Feather River route as the preferred on for the shipment, the route through Reno will still remain a possibility in the event of problem along the primary route.

The State of Nevada has been working with the Western Governors' Association (WGA) to assess the possible impacts of these shipments and coordinate planning, training, and related activities. The WGA has established a working group comprised of representatives from California, Nevada, Utah, and Idaho that is meeting regularly with DOE to obtain information and provide a forum for states' input into DOE planning process.

Nevada's position has been that these shipments cannot begin until adequate emergency response training and preparation has been done along the route. The State has also insisted that there be adequate participation in planning for the shipments, and DOE has committed to making funds available for participation. However, to date no monies have been forthcoming. In addition, DOE has only recently begun to involve affected Indian Tribes, such as the Pyramid Lake Tribe and others along the Nevada portion of the rail route.

DOE is proposing to develop and deliver a package of basic first responder training courses to local emergency personnel in communities along the route. DOE is also offering opportunities for more advanced radiological training to hazmat personnel and hospitals along the corridor as needs are identified (through the REAC/TS courses at Oak Ridge National Laboratory and the TETRA courses the Nevada Test Site). The State Office of Emergency Support (formerly the Office of Emergency Management) within the Department of Motor Vehicles and Public Safety will coordinate training activities with other state and local agencies.

Protocols and procedures for inspecting the shipment within Nevada and possibly escorting it through the state have yet to be worked out.

The foreign spent fuel shipments are being handled by DOE's Idaho Operations Office, 800 Energy Drive, Idaho Falls, ID 83401-1563 (Phone 1-800-708-2680). Information from DOE is available on the INTERNET at "http://www.em.doe.gov/nuclear/"

For more information,

Nevada Agency for Nuclear Projects
Capitol Complex
Carson City, NV 89710
702 687-3744
702 687-5277 (Fax)
OR Office of Emergency Support
2325 S. Carson Street
Carson City, NV 89710
702 687-4240
702 687-6788 (Fax)

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