A Compendium of Spent Fuel Transportation Package Response Analyses to Severe Fire Accident Scenarios, Final Report (NUREG/CR-7209, PNNL-24792)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: December 2016
Date Published: March 2017

Prepared by:
J. A. Fort
J. M. Cuta
H. E. Adkins, Jr.

Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
P. O. Box 999
Richland, WA 99352

J. Piotter, NRC Project Manager

NRC Job Code J5710

Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Safeguards
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington DC 20555-0001

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This document summarizes studies of truck and rail transport accidents involving fires, relative to regulatory requirements for shipment of commercial spent nuclear fuel (SNF). These studies were initiated by the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission in response to a 2006 National Academy of Sciences review of procedures and regulations. The fire accident scenarios were based on the severe historical railway and roadway fires in terms of their potential impact on SNF containers.

While no such accidents involving SNF have ever actually happened in shipments either by rail or roadway, accidents resulting in fires do occur in both modes of transport and, however unlikely, plausible arguments can be made for the possibility of SNF containers being involved in such accidents. A regulatory framework for SNF containers is in place in the United States (10 CFR 71) and internationally (International Atomic Energy Agency) to ensure that risk due to such accidents is small and that the danger to the public is within accepted standards. The history of this regulatory framework is briefly summarized.

The combined summary of this work on fire accidents demonstrates that current U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission regulations and packaging standards provide a high degree of protection to the public health and safety against releases of radioactive material in real-world transportation accidents, were such events to involve SNF containers.

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