CAROLINE-R80 (Photo credit: ONDRAF)Belgium’s radioactive waste management company, ONDRAF, said on 6 October that Equans Specialized Nuclear Services, formerly Transnubel, had developed at its request a unique transport vehicle with integrated packaging for solid medium and high level waste.

ONDRAF said medium and high level solid waste had to be transported in complete safety from the producers' sites to its industrial subsidiary, Belgoprocess, in Dessel, for further processing.

"About twenty transports of this type of waste are carried out each year", noted ONDRAF’s Arno Grade. “This is why the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (AFCN) asked us to develop specific transport packaging for this waste, which is itself contained in 400-litre drums. The specialised company Equans SNS designed and built a transport vehicle with integrated packaging comprising a trailer with two integrated transport packaging called “CAROLINE-R80”, and a system of autonomous loading and unloading. The packaging complies with type B regulations for the transport of dangerous goods (ADR) making possible the transport of substances of high activity in complete safety.

“This unique transport vehicle has been extensively tested at waste generator sites over the past 18 months,” said Grade. “These were tests in real conditions, but without radioactive waste: so-called cold tests. The aim was to eliminate any early flaws in the system. We checked whether the transport vehicle actually does what it is supposed to do in practice. "

The problems that arose during cold testing have almost all been resolved to date. “At the end of the summer, it was therefore possible to present the transport vehicle again to the waste producers. The demonstration took place at the Equans SNS site, where the main focus was on loading and unloading a waste drum. This procedure must be clear and transparent for the security services of the producers. This allows them to properly assess the potential risks. "

The transport vehicle should be ready to take to the road by the end of the year. “Equans SNS still needs to make some final adjustments,” noted Grade. “Once this is done, and we have obtained the necessary approvals from the FANC, CAROLINE-R80 will be able to carry out its first real transport with radioactive waste."

Photo: CAROLINE-R80 (Photo credit: ONDRAF)