United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission - Protecting People and the Environment

NRC: Table S.4 Environmental impact of transportation of fuel and waste to and from one light-water-cooled nuclear power reactor

Table S.4 Environmental impact of transportation of fuel and waste to and from one light-water-cooled nuclear power reactor,a normal conditions of transport
  Environmental impact
Heat (per irradiated fuel cask in transit) 250,000 Btu/hr
Weight (governed by Federal or State restrictions) 73,000 lb per truck; 100 tons per cask per rail car
Traffic density  
   Truck Less than 1 per day
   Rail Less than 3 per month
Exposed population   Estimated number of persons exposed Range of doses to exposed individualsb (per reactor year) Cumulative dose to exposed population (per reactor year)c
Transportation workers 200 0.01 to 300 mrem 4 man-rem
General public      
   Onlookers 1,100 0.003 to 1.3 mrem 3 man-rem
   Along route  600,000 0.0001 to 0.06 mrem  
Accidents in transport
  Environmental risk
Radiological effects Smalld
Common (nonradiological) causes   1 fatal injury in 100 reactor years, 1 nonfatal injury in 10 reactor years, $475 property damage per reactor year
aData supporting this table are given in the Commission's Environmental Survey of Transportation of Radioactive Materials to and from Nuclear Power Plants, WASH-1238, December 1972, and Supp. 1 NUREG-75/038, April 1975. Both documents are available for inspection and copying at the Commission's Public Document Room, 2120 L Street N.W., Washington, D.C., and may be obtained from National Technical Information Service, Springfield, VA 22161. WASH-1238 is available from NTIS at a cost of $5.45 (microfiche, $2.25) and NUREG-75/038 is available at a cost of $3.25 (microfiche, $2.25).
bThe Federal Radiation Council has recommended that the radiation doses from all sources of radiation other than natural background and medical exposures should be limited to 5000 mrem per year for individuals as a result of occupational exposure and should be limited to 500 mrem per year for individuals in the general population. The dose to individuals due to average natural background radiation is about 130 mrem per year.
cMan-rem is an expression for the summation of whole body doses to individuals in a group. Thus, if each member of a population group of 1000 people were to receive a dose of 0.0001 rem (1 mrem), or if 2 people were to receive a dose of 0.5 rem (500 mrem) each, the total man-rem dose in each case would be 1 man-rem.
dAlthough the environmental risk of radiological effects stemming from transportation accidents is currently incapable of being numerically quantified, the risk remains small regardless of whether it is being applied to a single reactor or a multireactor site.

Source: 10 CFR 51.52.

Page Last Reviewed/Updated Thursday, March 29, 2012