Waste transport is safe says National Academies

18 February 2006

The US National Academies has concluded that the transportation of spent nuclear fuel is safe in a new report, Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States.

The report’s principal finding is that there are “no fundamental technical barriers to the safe transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the United States." Shipment of spent fuel by rail or truck is “a low-radiological-risk activity with manageable safety, health, and environmental consequences when conducted in strict adherence to existing regulations.”

The report also concluded: “The radiological risks associated with the transportation of spent fuel and high-level waste are well understood and are generally low.”

Although the National Academies did not assess security risks of spent fuel transportation, it recommended that an independent assessment of security issues be conducted.

The study was sponsored by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission, the Department of Energy, the Department of Transportation, the Electric Power Research Institute, the National Academy of Sciences, and the National Cooperative Highway Research Programme.

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