U. S. NUCLEAR REGULATORY COMMISSION
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October 30, 1998
NRC TO GRANT TWO EXEMPTIONS TO ITS PACKAGE REQUIREMENTS
TO FACILITATE SHIPMENT OF TROJAN REACTOR VESSEL FOR DISPOSAL
The Nuclear Regulatory Commission staff has granted a request from the Portland General Electric Company, which is decommissioning its Trojan nuclear power plant near Ranier, Oregon, for its approval to transport the Trojan reactor vessel to a disposal site at the Hanford Nuclear Reservation near Richland, Washington.
Under the company's plan, which the NRC has reviewed, the reactor vessel will be shipped intact with its radioactive internals in place. It will be filled with low-density concrete for shipment by barge to Port of Benton, Washington, and taken from there to the U.S. Ecology disposal site at Hanford by overland heavy-haul transporter. The Trojan nuclear power plant shut down in 1992.
As part of the request, Portland General Electric asked that it be exempted from two NRC package requirements to allow the shipment. NRC usually requires that a package containing large quantities of radioactive materials be capable of surviving a 30-foot drop. However, because there is no drop greater than 11 feet at any point on the transport route and safety studies and Portland General Electric's operational controls indicate the chance of the transport package encountering any such unforseen conditions is highly unlikely NRC agreed to waive this requirement. NRC usually also requires that the integrity of a package containing large quantities of radioactive materials be tested by a one-foot drop onto a flat, unyielding surface prior to shipment. However because the transport package will weigh more than two million pounds when loaded some specific conditions of this test were not deemed necessary.
NRC held a public meeting in Kelso, Washington, July 30 to discuss the proposed transport plan. The company proposed this method of disposal to reduce the number of shipments required from a maximum of 54 (if the reactor vessel were to cut into pieces) to one, and to reduce radiation exposure of workers on the project by half. After its detailed review, NRC staff concluded that operational and administrative controls to be exercised by Portland General Electric and the unique nature of the one-time-only shipment will adequately protect public safety and not significantly impact the environment
The state of Washington and the U.S. Department of Transportation have yet to act on Portland General Electric's request.