1999 CPEO Military List Archive

From: Susan Gawarecki <loc@icx.net>
Date: Mon, 26 Apr 1999 12:16:11 -0700 (PDT)
Reply: cpeo-military
Subject: Facts about nuclear weapons/materials/waste transport
This fact sheet was brought to my attention by a LOC Citizen's Advisory
Panel member.  I thought the information would be of interest to the CPEO
military list readers.

--Susan Gawarecki

Susan L. Gawarecki, Ph.D., Executive Director
Oak Ridge Reservation Local Oversight Committee, Inc.
136 South Illinois Avenue, Suite 208
Oak Ridge, Tennessee  37830
Phone (423) 483-1333; Fax (423) 482-6572; E-mail loc@icx.net
VISIT OUR UPDATED WEB SITE:  http://www.local-oversight.org

To DOE Field PA people:
From: DOE Press Office
April 22, 1999 

Attached is a fact sheet we have created to address some questions you may
soon receive about the May NBC movie, "Atomic Train," The plot is that a
train carrying both an armed nuclear weapon and nuclear waste barrels into
Denver, making the Mile High City an inch-high pile of dust.

We are asking you to keep this on hand to distribute to any reporters with
initial questions about the movie. While we realize that this is an
entertainment disaster movie, we expect that it will pique interest about
transportation of nuclear materials. We are not asking you to pro-actively
send this fact sheet to reporters.

Please call or e-mail me if you have any questions.

Yours sincerely,

Christina "Technicolor", Kielich
DOE HQ Press Office (202/586-0581)

Transporting Radioactive Materials

Radioactive materials for use in medicine, agriculture, industry and
science move routinely by truck, train, ship and airplanes. The transport
of these materials is carefully regulated by international, federal and
state agencies to protect public safety and the environment. Stringent
rules apply to the transport of nuclear weapons and nuclear waste.

Nuclear Weapons

*     Nuclear weapons are not transported on trains in the United States.
The last U.S. rail shipment of nuclear weapons occurred in 1985.

* The Transportation Safeguards Division (TSD) of DOE was established in
1975 for the purpose of transporting U.S. nuclear weapons, components and
special nuclear materials, and has logged 100 million miles without the
loss or compromise of any shipment or release of radioactive materials.

*     U.S. nuclear weapons, components, and special nuclear materials are
moved by the TSD in 18-wheel trucks specially designed and built for this
purpose, incorporating the latest security and safety technologies, and
staffed by highly trained and armed Federal agents.

* U.S. nuclear weapons and spent nuclear fuel (or nuclear waste of any
kind) are never transported together. Federal regulations prohibit their
joint shipment.

* A U.S. nuclear weapon in transport does not need to be "de-fused." U.S.
nuclear weapons are not armed when transported,

* U.S. nuclear weapons are all designed to survive extraordinary
accidents, making it virtually impossible for an unintended nuclear
detonation to occur even when a weapon is jostled about or engulfed in
fire for an extended period of time.

* U.S. nuclear weapons are designed with security measures that make
unauthorized access and detonation virtually impossible.

Spent Nuclear Fuel

* Since 1965, there have been more than 2,500 shipments of spent nuclear
fuel in the United States without injury or environmental consequences as
a result of the radioactive nature of the cargo,

* Federal regulations permit the transportation of spent nuclear fuel only
in a very strong robust metal container, called "Type B" transportation
cask. Type B casks are designed and constructed to safely contain their
radioactive contents under normal and severe accident conditions. Cask
designs are reviewed and certified by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
Test have demonstrated that this type of cask will survive the forces that
it would likely experience in an earthquake, train collision and
derailment, highway accident or fire,

* Spent nuclear fuel is a solid material that is composed of irradiated
uranium oxide pellets encased in metal tubes. The solid spent fuel pellets
will not explode, spontaneously catch fire, or burn.

Transuranic Waste

* On March 26, 1999, the first shipment of defense-generated transuranic
radioactive waste arrived safely at the U.S. Department of Energy's Waste
Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, New Mexico.

* Transuranic waste - clothing, tools, rags, debris, residues, and other
disposable items contaminated with radioactive elements, mostly plutonium
- began accumulating in the 1940s with the beginning of the nation's
nuclear weapons program.

* WIPP trucks, operated by highly trained drivers, carry transuranic waste
in robust containers certified for this purpose by the U.S. Nuclear
Regulatory Commission. Each shipment is monitored by a satellite tracking
system for added safety assurance, WIPP transportation protocols call for
restrictions on traveling during inclement weather, parking in only
preselected, 'safe' areas, and pre-notification of the shipments to
states, tribal and local emergency responders.

* The container for shipping transuranic waste called Transuranic
Packaging Transporter Model 2, or TRUPACT-11, has been subjected to
rigorous testing to ensure that it meets all safety and regulatory
requirements. The compliance tests represent both normal operational
conditions and a wide range of hypothetical accidents. The tests
demonstrated that the containers would remain leak tight during the series
of tests and after completion of the test sequences.

* As early as the 1950s, the National Academy of Sciences recommended
disposal of radioactive waste in stable geologic formations, such as deep
salt beds. Government scientists searched for an appropriate sited during
the 1960's, testing the area of southeastern New Mexico in the 1970's.
Congress authorized construction of the WIPP in 1979. DOE completed
construction of the facility in the late 1980's.

* The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency certified in May 1998 that the
WIPP meets all applicable federal standards for disposal of transuranic

* Located in southeastern New Mexico, 26 miles cast of Carlsbad, The WIPP
facility includes disposal rooms excavated in an ancient, stable salt
formation 2,150 feet underground.


- DOE -

  Prev by Date: Depleted Uranium Quote
Next by Date: Part-Time Environmental Partnership Coordinator Sought
  Prev by Thread: Re: Depleted Uranium Quote
Next by Thread: Part-Time Environmental Partnership Coordinator Sought

CPEO Lists
Author Index
Date Index
Thread Index