"How SAFE are radioactive material transportation packages?"
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How are packages certified?
What are full-scale tests?
What are scale-model tests?
What is computer analysis?
What are examples of severe testing?
How do the certification tests compare to real-life accidents?
Real-Life Accidents
Free Drop Comparison
Crush Comparison
Puncture Comparison
Fire Comparison
Immersion Comparison
Demonstrating target hardness.
Comparison of the Free Drop Test to a
Passenger Train and Semi-truck Trailer Collision
Free Drop Test
3,000,000 lbs of force present
in this package certification test.
[DROP test]
Click to view picture
Real-life Accident Comparison
1,000,000 lbs of force present
in this real-life accident.
[DROP scenario]
Click to view picture
Real-life scenarios that are encompassed by the above test include:
  • the package being struck by a train traveling 60 MPH
  • the package falling off of a 30-foot high bridge onto solid rock or from a higher bridge onto a highway or railroad
  • the package running into a bridge support or rock slope at 45 MPH.
Packages are transported onboard trucks or rail cars, which absorb some of the impact energy, reducing the resulting damage to the packages from the accident.
On May 2, 1995, an O&J Gordon Trucking Company truck consisting of a tractor and a lowbed semitrailer became lodged on a high-profile (hump) railroad grade crossing near Sycamore, South Carolina. About 35 minutes later, the truck was struck by southbound Amtrak train No. 81, Silver Star, en route from New York City to Tampa, Florida.

The two locomotive units and 14 cars of the 16 car train derailed. The train was carring 279 passengers, 9 service crewmembers, and 5 operating crewmembers. No fire ensued. No deaths resulted from the accident, but 33 persons sustained minor injuries. Combined property damage to the truck and train exceeded $1 million.

QUESTION #1:
What would have happened if a Type B RAM package had been on the truck that was struck by the train?

ANSWER #1:
The package would have only sustained minor damage. There may have been some crushing of the impact limiter and denting of the outside of the package. There would have been no release of radioactive material.

QUESTION #2:
What would have happened if the package was on the train?

ANSWER #2:
There would have been no release of radioactive material.

What forces are present in this accident?

DOE | NTP Headquarters | NTP Albuquerque Operations
Sandia National Laboratories | Nuclear Energy & Fuel Cucle Programs
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