United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 92-62: Emergency Response Information Requirements for Radioactive Material Shipments

                                 UNITED STATES
                         NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
               OFFICE OF NUCLEAR MATERIAL SAFETY AND SAFEGUARDS
                            WASHINGTON, D.C. 20555

                                August 24, 1992


NRC INFORMATION NOTICE 92-62:  EMERGENCY RESPONSE INFORMATION REQUIREMENTS
                               FOR RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL SHIPMENTS  


Addressees

All U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission licensees.

Purpose

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is issuing this information
notice to alert licensees of a recent incident where emergency response
information was not provided in a timely manner when the local responders
called the licensee, using the emergency response telephone number listed on
the shipping paper, during a transportation accident.  This notice applies to
licensees who prepare and deliver radioactive material packages to carriers,
and to private carriers who transport packages.  

It is expected that licensees will review this information for applicability
to their licensed activities and consider actions, as appropriate, to avoid
similar problems when shipping packages containing radioactive materials. 
However, suggestions contained in this notice do not constitute any new
requirements, and no written response is required.

Description of Circumstances

At approximately 3:15 a.m., on December 16, 1991, a truck carrying
unirradiated (fresh) nuclear fuel was involved in an accident on U.S.
Interstate 91, in Springfield, Massachusetts.  The fuel was being shipped by
General Electric Company (GE), an NRC licensee, from its fuel fabrication
plant in Wilmington, North Carolina, to the Vermont Yankee Nuclear Power
Station (VY) in Vernon, Vermont.  The fuel shipment consisted of 24 fresh fuel
assemblies, packaged two each, in 12 Model RA-2/RA-3 shipping containers.

As a result of the accident, the truck and shipping containers carrying the
fresh fuel were engulfed in a fire that lasted for almost 3 hours.  Despite
the collision and subsequent fire, there were no deaths nor serious injuries. 
However, the accident did result in substantial property loss, which included
the truck, shipping containers, and damaged fuel assemblies.  

After the incident, NRC staff reviewed the emergency response measures taken. 
The results were reported in NUREG-1458 (published June 1992), "Emergency
Response to a Highway Accident in Springfield, Massachusetts, on December 16,
1991."  In performing this review, NRC learned that the truck driver provided
the shipping papers to the local emergency responders upon their arrival. 

9208190075.

                                                            IN 92-62
                                                            August 24, 1992
                                                            Page 2 of 4


Approximately 30 minutes after the accident occurred, the Springfield Fire
Department proceeded to call the licensee via the 24-hour emergency response
number listed on the shipping papers.  The licensee did not provide specific
advice for responding to the fire until approximately 1 hour after receiving
the call.

NRC has also identified other instances in which calls to licensee emergency
response numbers would have been unsuccessful in obtaining timely information. 
These instances were identified as a result of test calls placed to emergency
response numbers at licensed reactor and fuel fabrication facilities, during
periods when these facilities were making shipments.  The problems identified
during the test calls included unmonitored telephone numbers, and failure to
establish effective communications with persons knowledgeable of the shipment,
its hazards, and appropriate response information.  Causes of the identified
problems included reduced reliability of cellular phone systems in certain
areas, lack of procedures and/or associated training for personnel required to
transfer incoming telephone calls regarding hazardous waste shipments after
normal working hours, and failure to update the documents with proper numbers
after changes to the telephone system.  In all cases, the effectiveness of the
licensee providing the required emergency response information was
compromised. 

Discussion

NRC and DOT share primary responsibility for regulating the transportation of
radioactive materials within the United States.  NRC regulations for the
transportation of radioactive materials are codified in 10 CFR Part 71,
"Packaging and Transportation of Radioactive Materials."  DOT's hazardous
materials regulations, which include radioactive material, are codified in 49
CFR Parts 100-199.  A provision in the NRC regulations, 10 CFR 71.5, requires
that NRC licensees comply with DOT's hazardous material regulations.

Requirements for emergency response information are contained in DOT
regulations 49 CFR 172.600 - 172.604.  The specific contents of the emergency
response information that must be provided are described in 49 CFR 172.602 and
include the following:

(1)   Basic description and technical name of the hazardous material

(2)   Immediate hazards to health

(3)   Risks of fire or explosion

(4)   Immediate precautions to be taken in case of an accident or incident

(5)   Immediate methods for handling fires

(6)   Initial methods for handling spills or leaks in the absence of fire

(7)   Preliminary first aid measures.

                                                            IN 92-62
                                                            August 24, 1992
                                                            Page 3 of 4


This information must be legible and available away from the package and must
be presented either on a shipping paper or in a separate document that cross-
references with the technical name of the material as presented on the
shipping paper.  If this information is contained in a document separate from
the shipping paper, it must be treated in the same manner as a shipping paper,
that is, it must be kept within reach of the driver.

Requirements for the 24-hour emergency response telephone number are described
in 49 CFR 172.604 and include the following:

(1)   The telephone number must be monitored at all times while the
      hazardous material is in transit.

(2)   The telephone number must be the number of a person who is either
      knowledgeable of the hazardous material being shipped, and has
      comprehensive emergency response and incident mitigation information, or
      who has immediate access to such a person.

(3)   The number must be entered on the shipping paper.

Emergency response information is often critical to emergency responders when
making initial decisions on how to handle an incident.  Incident conditions
may deteriorate during the time required by emergency responders to place
calls requesting information, making prompt licensee input essential for
effective emergency response. 

All emergency response information required by DOT regulations must be
accurately provided on shipping papers or other documents, and the licensee
must be prepared to respond promptly with the information needed, when called. 
Emergency responders will expect the licensee to remain on the line until the
information needed has been provided.  Emergency responders will also expect
this information to be provided within 15 minutes.

Licensees may also wish to note that the Chemical Transportation Emergency
Center (CHEMTREC) will provide and monitor the 24-hour emergency response
telephone number required by DOT regulations, for a fee.  With this option,
licensees can provide CHEMTREC with the necessary emergency response
information and then list CHEMTREC's telephone number on the shipping papers
as the emergency response telephone number. 
.

                                                            IN 92-62
                                                            August 24, 1992
                                                            Page 4 of 4


This information notice requires no specific action or written response. If
you have any questions about the information in this notice, please contact
one of the technical contacts listed below or the appropriate regional office.
Questions about DOT requirements should be directed to DOT.


                                        ORIGINAL SIGNED BY

                                    Robert F. Burnett, Director     
                                    Division of Safeguards and Transportation  
                                    Office of Nuclear Material            
                                       and Safeguards

Technical contacts:  John R. Cook, NMSS 
                     (301) 504-2458 

                     George B. Kuzo, RII 
                     (404) 331-2560 

                     George Brown, DOT 
                     (202) 366-4545

Attachments:
1.  List of Recently Issued NMSS Information Notices
2.  List of Recently Issued NRC Information Notices







.
Page Last Reviewed/Updated Tuesday, November 12, 2013