For the last twenty year, WIPP trucks have hauled 12,500 payloads of hazardous cargo (transuranic waste) with drivers traveling over 14.9 million miles and there have been no leaks of radioactive material, personal injuries or environmental issues. The primary reason for this is the overall safety culture with the high-quality drivers and carrier compliance to the rigid regulations of the NRC and the US DOT. WIPP is expected to receive up to 37,000 shipments from federal (DOE) storage facilities for the next 30 years.
The US nuclear energy industry has safely transported used fuel without any harmful release of radioactivity, injuries or environmental damage 100% of the time. According to the NRC, more than 1,300 spent fuel shipments have been completed safely in the United States over the past 35 years. Most of the used fuel was shipped by rail. The US Navy has completed nearly 850 shipments of used fuel from naval propulsion reactors, covering 1.6 million transportation miles.
In fact, after 20,000 shipments total of used fuel by the worldwide nuclear industry since 1970, there have been no leaks of radioactive material or personal injuries. In addition, more than 250 transportation cask of used nuclear fuel from foreign research reactors have been transported to and within the United States between 1990 and 2012.
Containers for nuclear fuel shipments are fabricated with multiple layers of steel, lead, concrete and other materials to safely confine and shield radiation associated with the used fuel from external entities. Fully loaded containers weigh between 25 tons and 40 tons for truck transport and between 75 tons and 125 tons for rail shipments. Typically, for every ton of used fuel, a container has about 4 tons of protective confinement and shielding.
In the United States, more than 80,000 metric tons of used nuclear fuel are stored at 73 nuclear reactor sites and four DOE facilities in 35 states. This amount increases by about 2,000 metric tons each year. More than 2,700 used fuel storage containers are currently in service at these reactor sites. Time to relocate them to New Mexico – HI-STORE CISF.