People across the United States have been sharing the roads with trucks that transport low-level radioactive waste without even realizing it.
Nuclear waste transport is secretive, right?? – in fact, it is just the opposite. Radioactive waste makes up a very minute percentage of shipments in the U.S., yet the nuclear waste transportation industry, from cargo integrity to cask and transport vehicle inspection and certifications, is one of the most highly regulated and monitored industries in our country.
WCS ensures that packaging, shipping and transportation requirements are strictly monitored and applied to all shipments received. In fact, meticulous adherence to these requirements has resulted in an excellent transportation record.
The start of the journey
If you saw a sample of the typical low-level waste we receive at our facility you’ll see how boring it is. The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission lists some typical examples of low-level waste, from shoe covers to water treatment equipment tools, construction debris and soils, noting that it typically stays on site where it was generated until its radioactivity has diminished, or the site or facility that generates the waste has accumulated enough of the waste to ship to WCS.
So then how does that waste get here? If you’re imagining something like your neighborhood garbage truck – which is easily identifiable by the waste it contains – you couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Every nuclear waste container on our roadways is regulated by either the Department of Transportation (DOT) or the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC).
On the road
The DOT regulates routes, notifications and other details such as travel times and dates for specific moves for shipments of radioactive waste. A permit must be requested and received from the DOT providing that information. For highway shipments these permits are typically good for 3-7 days and are specific for each shipment.
WCS offers transportation services to ensure that waste headed to Andrews gets there safely – from pickup to final disposal at the WCS site. We made a commitment to Texas, and to our customers across the U.S., to provide the safest, most secure and permanent disposal operations possible, and that begins with safely securing and transporting the waste.
Our efforts are working: In the over-10 years that radioactive waste has been arriving at our facility we have maintained an impeccable safety and environmental record.
Our record of safety is actually typical for all types of radioactive waste transport, not just across Texas but across the entire U.S. – and the world. Strict safety regulations by both DOT and the NRC mean that shippers safely transport millions of tons of radioactive waste each year on our highways, railways and waterways.
Your safety support system
This unique and beautiful region in the Southwestern United States is home to us at WCS. We are community, state and regional stewards and we advocate for safety, and have long supported legislation that strengthens existing transportation regulations.
We are a piece of your local and regional safety support system when it comes to the transport and disposal of radioactive waste – and that’s not by accident.