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The Canadian Nuclear FAQ  

by Dr. Jeremy Whitlock


To the Reminder (Flin Flon, MB), regarding spent fuel transportation safety.

(Published in the 2015 Feb 18 edition)


2015 Feb 18

To The Editor,
The Flin Flon Reminder:

Reader Steve Lawrence incorrectly claims that “as far as the transport of nuclear waste, the trucks that carry the waste cannot be built heavy enough to eliminate the exposure of the public to the penetrating gamma radiation” (Letter to the Editor, Feb. 13).

In fact, trucks can easily handle the size and weight of a container built to appropriate specifications, and as I demonstrated in Creighton in January, it is relatively simple to shield ourselves from radiation.

Transportation of nuclear fuel is regulated by both Transport Canada and the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission (CNSC), with strict requirements that go far beyond the shielding itself.

To be certified for use on Canadian highways, a container must pass a battery of tests, including immersion in 800-degree fire, submersion in 15 metres of water and dropping from nine metres onto a hardened surface.

Radioactive material of all types, including spent fuel, has been safely transported in Canada for decades, and is among the safest cargos on our highways today.

I encourage folks to learn more about this important topic, and be wary of unsubstantiated claims that lead to fear and misunderstanding.

The CNSC has a FAQ page on the transport of nuclear fuel at: http://nuclearsafety.gc.ca/eng/waste/faq/transport-of-used- nuclear-fuel.

The NWMO’s backgrounder on spent fuel transportation can be found at: http://www.nwmo.ca/uploads_managed/MediaFiles/1959_backgrounder_ensuringsafetransportation2012.pdf

In addition, I would be happy to respond to all questions directed to my own information website, www.nuclearfaq.ca, on this or any other topic related to nuclear technology and safety.

Dr. Jeremy Whitlock,
Deep River, ON

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