United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

Information Notice No. 93-07: Classification of Transportation Emergencies

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

                               February 1, 1993


NRC INFORMATION NOTICE 93-07:  CLASSIFICATION OF TRANSPORTATION EMERGENCIES

Addressees

All Licensees required to have an emergency plan. 

Purpose

The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission is issuing this information notice to
alert licensees of a recent incident where the classification of a
transportation accident was confusing and misleading.  It is expected that
licensees will review this information for applicability to their licensed
activities and consider actions, as appropriate, to avoid similar problems. 
However, suggestions contained in this notice do not constitute any new NRC
requirements, and no written response is required. 

Description of Circumstances

On December 16, 1991, a truck carrying unirradiated (fresh) nuclear fuel was
involved in an accident in Massachusetts.  The fuel was being shipped from a
fuel fabrication plant in North Carolina, to a reactor in Vermont.  The fuel
shipment consisted of 24 fresh fuel assemblies, packaged 2 each, in 12
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.  The
shipper declared a "Site Emergency" and responded in accordance with its
emergency plan.  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, "Emergency Response to a Highway
Accident in Springfield, Massachusetts, on December 16, 1991."  This report
concluded that the shipper's classification "is confusing since it does not
have the same meaning as a site emergency for a fixed facility.  Consideration
should be given to developing a standard classification for transportation
events that has its own terminology."

Discussion

The emergency classifications defined in 10 CFR Parts 30, 40, 50, and 70 are
intended for emergencies at a fixed site (i.e., the licensee's facility). 
When a Notification Of Unusual Event (NOUE), Alert, or Site Area Emergency is
declared, the licensee is required to immediately notify offsite response 

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                                                            IN 93-07
                                                            February 1, 1993
                                                            Page 2 of 2


agencies responsible for taking actions to protect the public within a few
miles of the licensee's facility.  Declaring an NOUE, Alert, or Site Area
Emergency for a transportation accident tens or hundreds of miles away from a
licensee's facility causes unnecessary confusion among offsite response
agencies.

After considering the need to develop a standard classification for
transportation events, the staff concluded that a rulemaking to establish an
additional emergency classification was not warranted.  Most transportation
accidents are reported by licensees that are not required by regulation to
have an emergency plan.  The cause of the confusion in the Springfield
accident was the classification of an offsite emergency using the scheme
established in the regulations for an onsite emergency.  Only licensees
required to have an emergency plan would tend to use this classification
scheme.  Therefore the staff believes that making licensees with emergency
plans aware of the potential for confusion and having NRC licensing staff
determine how transportation accidents are classified in future reviews of
emergency plans is sufficient to address this problem.

Licensees required to maintain an emergency plan may want to review their
emergency classification procedures and consider the need to establish a
separate classification (e.g., transportation emergency) for offsite
transportation accidents that require activation of the licensee's emergency
organization. 

This information notice requires no specific action or written response.  If
you have any questions about the information in this notice, please contact
the technical contact listed below or the appropriate regional office. 


                                  ORIGINAL SIGNED BY


                              Richard E. Cunningham, Director
                              Division of Industrial and 
                                Medical Nuclear Safety
                              Office of Nuclear Material Safety
                                and Safeguards

Technical contact:  Kevin M. Ramsey, NMSS 
                    (301) 504-2534

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