Train derails on way to load N-waste

Transportation Casks_1

VT rail accident sends a clear warning

The Brattleboro Reformer reports that a train on its way to load up nuclear waste from the decommissioning Vermont Yankee nuclear power station derailed on February 24, 2023. The derailment involved the “spacer” cars to be coupled between freight cars intended to carry nuclear waste out west.  “‘The whole idea of shipping SNF (high level radioactive waste/spent nuclear fuel) all over the country on rail lines is at the heart of what DOE (Department of Energy) wants to start in the years ahead. We should all be nervous about such a development in light of Palestine, OH and many other such incidents,’ said Lissa Weinmann of Brattleboro, the vice chairwoman of the Vermont Yankee Decommissioning Citizens Advisory Panel.”

For years now, so-called “low-level” radioactive wastes associated with the decommissioning of Vermont Yankee have been regularly shipped by NorthStar to its Waste Control Specialists, LLC (WCS) dumpsite in Andrews County, Texas. Orano and WCS would also like to ship highly radioactive wastes, not only from Vermont Yankee, but from all U.S. reactors, to their Interim Storage Partners, LLC consolidated interim storage facility at the WCS site, as well. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission approved that dump’s license application in September 2021, but resistance to it continues.

This is not the first time an empty radioactive waste transport vehicle experienced a shipping mishap bound for the Vermont Yankee nuclear power plant site. An empty container for highly radioactive waste storage, bound for VY on a truck, was involved in a mishap — the truck left the road, onto a soft shoulder, and became stuck there.

Nor is VY the only nuclear power plant site where such cautionary tales have occurred. Decades ago, a barge transporting an empty dry storage cask for irradiated nuclear fuel actually lost the container overboard, while en route to the Oyster Creek nuclear power plant in New Jersey.

But of course, the real risk involves radioactive waste containers that are full. These Mobile Chornobyl risks are rearing their ugly head, yet again, given the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission’s approval of license applications for consolidated interim storage facilities in Texas and New Mexico.

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