Operating Experience in Nuclear Transport for the Front End of the Fuel Cycle
The fuel and enrichment divisions within BNFL are involved in some 4,000 lorry journeys per year covering the transport of non-irradiated fuel elements as well as the feed materials and intermediate products of the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle. The range of materials being carried means that a variety of methods of carrying and containment are required.
Further, the number of receipt and delivery points means that the facilities need to be simple and the techniques employed chosen to give maximum flexibility. There is thus much scope for improvement or optimisation of routine transport.
For the non-routine, simple statistics imply that traffic incidents, involving front end nuclear materials, will occur during transport operations. Because of the public perception of risks, it is necessary for operators to improve upon the law of averages by careful procedures and the training of operators, including sub-contractors. Contingency plans have to be laid to cover the cases where even these procedures prove inadequate. These plans require international collaboration since the consequences of an incident will not be restricted to carrier.
The record of transport for the front end of the nuclear fuel cycle is a good one, but the scale of operations and the quality of the achievement are not necessarily appreciated by the general public. There needs to be a constant striving for excellence in procedures and a willingness for international collaboration if the nuclear transport industry is to build upon its good record, and retain the public confidence necessary for continued operations.
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