Over the last 40 years, spent nuclear fuel has been successfully transported more than 3,000 times in the United States, and the mileage of road, rail, and barge transport has reached 1.7 million miles. Also, there are tens of thousands of records of successful transportation outside the United States, so it can be said that experience and technology in transporting spent nuclear fuel are mature and secure.
The transportation of spent nuclear fuel from dry storage facilities to final disposal sites should comply with laws and regulations such as the “Nuclear Materials and Radioactive Waste Management Act,” “Rules for Safe Transportation of Radioactive Materials,” and “Regulations for the Nuclear Fuels Operational Safety Management.” Information analysis and transportation route planning should be conducted, and the transportation plan should be implemented after approval by the competent authority. The preliminary planning process is as follows:
1. Loading container and transportation equipment:
In order to ensure the safe and smooth of spent nuclear fuel by land and sea transportation, it is necessary to choose suitable loading containers and transport equipment, and special equipment tailored for special needs should be used, such as transport casks, transport vehicles, transport ships, cranes, and lifting equipment. The relevant vehicles must have obtained operating licenses approved by the relevant competent authorities.
2. Land transport routes and shipping:
The relevant routes must be first evaluated, and peak hours during the daytime with busy crowds and traffic should be avoided, so as to facilitate control over the situation and increase the safety of transportation. The members of the transportation team should comprise nuclear fuel professionals. The vehicles of the transportation team should be driven by professional drivers with good driving skills and prior training in radiation protection. The team of vehicles should be directed by an experienced captain who can cope with various situations of emergency. The relevant vehicles and transport ships for sea travel must be manufactured in dimensions suited for transporting spent nuclear fuel.
3. Road bearing capacity:
In order to ensure the safety of transportation operations, analysis and investigation of the transportation routes must be carried out in advance, including the following: (1) collecting relevant data and on-site investigation: topographic surveys, and survey of culverts and bridges; and (2) on-site detection and testing: detection operations such as ground penetrating radar detection and seismic refraction detection.
Comprehensive safety assessment: including road alignment, pavement bearing capacity, analysis of relevant structures such as culverts, roadside ditches, and retaining walls, slope stability analysis, and bridge inspection.
Based on the results of the transportation route investigation and evaluation, the appropriate heavy vehicle types and transportation routes suited for the conditions of the location should be planned, with overall consideration for the construction period and feasibility of road improvement construction works in relation to the characteristics of the heavy vehicles, before developing a preliminary method for improvement construction works.
4. Pier/port investigation and evaluation:
In future, before spent nuclear fuel is transported out of the plant, it is necessary to first conduct investigation and evaluation for the construction of a new specialized pier or the expansion of existing ports and piers, and construction works must be completed.
5. Connection between dry storage and final disposal site:
In future, when the spent nuclear fuel is to be transported from a dry storage facility to a final disposal site for spent nuclear fuel, the sealed canister containing the spent nuclear fuel may be removed from the concrete cask and placed in a metal transport cask (note: as opposed to removing the TSC, VCC, and AOS as a whole), before being transported to the final disposal site for disposal. After the spent nuclear fuel arrives at the final disposal site, it will first be sent to the reception and processing site for safety inspection and serial number registration, before being sent to the encapsulation plant. The spent nuclear fuel will then be transferred from the sealed canister into the disposal tank and sealed. Finally, the disposal tanks are transported from the land surface to an underground disposal tunnel via a shaft.