ment purchases, and contractor selections. Of course, establishment of this system is dependent on DOE’s ability to obtain a license to construct and operate the repository, including surface facilities to handle spent fuel and high-level waste shipments, and to obtain adequate appropriations from Congress for procuring equipment and hiring contractors.

One of the most important decisions in the transportation program—the order for accepting spent fuel from generators—is established by the Nuclear Waste Policy Act (see Sidebar 5.2). It has no geographic coherence, and neither will the transport system developed to accommodate it. Spent fuel is likely to be transported to the repository simultaneously from several parts of the country along several different routes. It could be difficult for DOE to achieve efficiencies with respect to many of its transport operations, most notably route planning and emergency responder training, if it has no legal control of the acceptance order.

The national transportation program was in the early stages of development when this report was being written. Most of the planning and a great deal of the infrastructure will have to be developed from scratch, most notably the following:

  • The back-end facilities at the repository for handling the packages and conveyances have not been licensed or constructed.

  • A rail route has not been constructed in Nevada.

  • The packages and conveyances to move the spent fuel and high-level waste have not yet been ordered. New designs may have to be developed for some of this equipment. New package designs will require certification by the USNRC. DOE will not be able to fully determine its package needs until it has updated data on rail and heavy-haul access to owner’s sites (see Chapter 5).

  • DOE has not yet decided on contractor roles in the program, nor has it advertised for a transportation contractor.

  • Procedures for loading and moving spent fuel and high-level waste have not yet been established.

  • DOE has not yet selected routes so that emergency responder training can begin.

  • Many states, including Nevada, have yet to specify alternate preferred routes for truck shipments.

  • Procedures, facilities, and criteria for inspection and maintenance of packages and conveyances have not been developed.

In short, the national transportation program is very much a work in progress. The committee makes several recommendations in Chapter 5 for improving this transportation program.



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