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Identification of Factors for Selecting Modes and Routes for Shipping High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel
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Identification of Factors for Selecting Modes and Routes for Shipping High-Level Radioactive Waste and Spent Nuclear Fuel
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    Section 15 of the Hazardous Materials Transportation Uniform Safety Act of 1990 (see 49 U.S.C. Section 5105(d)(1994)) requires the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) to conduct a study: "To decide which safety factors, if any, shippers and carriers should consider when selecting routes and modes that would enhance overall public safety related to the transportation of high-level radioactive waste and spent nuclear fuel. " The Act also requires that DOT evaluate the degree to which each factor affects overall public safety in the transport of these materials. This report documents the results of the study. The approach was to identify and evaluate the safety factors requiring consideration, the study examined the risks associated with: 1) incident-free radiological exposure--the exposure to low levels of radiation that normally occur as a result of the transport of radioactive materials, 2) accident-related radiological exposure--the radiation exposure attributable to accidents that result in releases of radioactive materials, and 3) non-radiological consequences of accidents--the fatalities, property damage, and other non-radiological consequences that result from accidents involving the transport of nuclear materials. Two distinct methodologies were used to identify the mode and route factors: (1) hierarchical analysis and (2) mathematical modeling of risk. The hierarchical analysis, drawing upon expertise of a 14-member technical advisory group, identified primary mode and route factors by first developing and ranking a comprehensive set of 82 safety factors. These factors were then screened to yield a set of eight primary factors. The final set of eight primary safety factors were general population exposed, occupational population exposed, sensitive environment exposed, trip length, shipment duration, accident rate, emergency response, and quantity of material shipped. These primary factors were evaluated for five transportation options: 1) truck transport, 2) regular freight trains, 3) dedicated trains, 4) water transport, and 5) water-rail intermodal movements. The study considered the risk to the general public near loading and unloading facilities and along transportation routes, and to transportation personnel who handle radioactive materials or operate the equipment used to transport the materials.
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