United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission Package Performance Study Test Protocols - Draft Report or Comment (NUREG-1768)

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Publication Information

Manuscript Completed: February 2003
Date Published: February 2003

Division of Engineering Technology
Office of Nuclear Regulatory Research
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission
Washington, DC 20555-0001

Availability Notice


This test protocols report presents the NRC staff's preliminary plans for an experimental phase of the Package Performance Study (PPS), which is examining the response of transportation casks to extreme transportation accident conditions. The staff proposes to conduct tests of full-scale rail and full-scale truck casks including a high-speed impact with an unyielding surface followed by an extreme fire test. The NRC has a contract in place with Sandia National Laboratories (SNL) to conduct the impact and fire tests and to carry out a series of analyses to support the test program. These tests support the PPS objectives of enhancing public confidence in the inherent safety of spent nuclear fuel cask design, validating the capability of the cask models and analysis codes to accurately capture cask and fuel response to extreme mechanical and thermal environments, and providing data to refine dose risk estimates.

The objective of publishing this report is to continue the process of enhanced public involvement in the development of this program and to satisfy a specific commitment the NRC made to make these preliminary test plans available and to request comments on them. The following is a list of specific issues about which the staff is specifically soliciting comments. These include:

  • the types and number of cask designs that should be tested,
  • the speed and orientation used in the impact tests,
  • the method used to conduct the impact tests, dropped from a tower as proposed in this report or propelled along a horizontal track (e.g., on a rocket-sled track),
  • the reasonableness of the proposed range of speeds (96 to 144 kph [60 to 90 mph]) given that the frequency with which a rail cask might be expected to impact a hard rock surface at these speed is 10-6 to 10-8 per year,
  • the appropriateness of the impact speed of 120 kph [75 mph] proposed by the NRC staff for the rail cask collision test and the appropriate speed for the truck cask collision test,
  • the scale of the casks to be tested ( e.g., full-sized casks or partial scale),
  • the duration and size of the cask fire test,
  • the position of the cask relative to the fire,
  • the number and type(s) of fuel assemblies included in the casks, and
  • the ability of the proposed tests to yield risk insights consistent with NRC's risk-informed regulatory initiatives.

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