"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 Puncture Test to a
Freight Train and Freight Train Collision
Puncture Test
2,000,000 lbs of force present
in this package certification test.
[scale model PNCTR test]
Click to view picture
Real-life Accident Comparison
1,000,000 lbs of force present
in this real-life accident.
[PNCTR scenario]
Click to view picture
Real-life scenarios that the above test is designed to protect against include:
  • the frame rail from a truck spearing a package
  • a railroad track rail skewering a package.
On July 2, 1997, Union Pacific (UP) westbound freight train MKSNP-01 struck the side of UP eastbound freight train ZSEME-29. The collision occurred near Delia, Kansas. Each train was manned by an engineer and a conductor. The engineer on the westbound train was killed, and the conductor sustained minor injuries. No other injuries were reported.

Train MKSNP-01 consisted of 2 diesel locomotive units, 39 loaded cars, and 51 empties. The train weighed 5,347 tons and was 6,234 feet long. Train ZSEME-29 consisted of 5 diesel locomotive units and 38 loaded cars. The train weighed 3,925 tons and was 5,644 feet long.

Following the collision, a fire caused by punctured locomotive fuel tanks and automobiles on the eastbound train, engulfed the derailed cars and locomotives. Because five of the derailed cars contained hazardous materials, 1500 people were evacuated.

THEORY:
The puncture of the locomotive fuel tanks was most likely caused by a rail coupler (the fixture that holds rail cars together).

QUESTION:
What would have happened if a rail coupler were to strike a Type B RAM package?

ANSWER:
The package would not have been penetrated by the coupler and 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
Acknowledgment and Disclaimer