Expert Report

Going the Distance? The Safe Transport of Spent Nuclear Fuel and High-Level Radioactive Waste in the United States (2006)

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This new report from the National Research Council's Nuclear and Radiation Studies Board (NRSB) and the Transportation Research Board reviews the risks and technical and societal concerns for the transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive waste in the United States. Shipments are expected to increase as the U.S. Department of Energy opens a repository for spent fuel and high-level waste at Yucca Mountain, and the commercial nuclear industry considers constructing a facility in Utah for temporary storage of spent fuel from some of its nuclear waste plants. The report concludes that there are no fundamental technical barriers to the safe transport of spent nuclear fuel and high-level radioactive and the radiological risks of transport are well understood and generally low. However, there are a number of challenges that must be addressed before large-quantity shipping programs can be implemented successfully. Among these are managing "social" risks. The report does not provide an examination of the security of shipments against malevolent acts but recommends that such an examination be carried out.