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The Transportation of Highly Radioactive Waste: Implications for Homeland Security
1Arkansas Tech University
1Arkansas Tech University
Citation Information: Journal of Homeland Security and Emergency Management. Volume 1, Issue 2, Pages –, ISSN (Online) 1547-7355, DOI: 10.2202/1547-7355.1019, January 2004
- Published Online:
There has been much discussion and controversy over the safety of transporting large amounts of highly radioactive waste to any centralized storage/disposal facility. Safety concerns have focused primarily on four areas: the potential for sabotage or a terrorist attack, the potential for an accident resulting in the release of radioactive material, the ability of the transportation casks to maintain their integrity in the event of an incident, and the distance and location of the rail and highway transportation routes. While, the government maintains that adequate safeguards will be taken to ensure the safety of future shipments, critics assert that the substantial increase in the number of shipments across great distances will significantly increase the probability for an incident resulting in the release of radioactive material.In spite of the generally positive government safety record for past radioactive waste shipments, there is no guarantee that an incident involving the release of a significant amount of radioactive material will not occur during transit in the future. Thus, federal authorities will need to take steps to reduce concerns over the vulnerability of the radioactive waste shipments by taking a two-track approach. First, the federal government will need to provide adequate training and equipment to state and local emergency first responders so they have the ability to respond quickly and effectively to any nuclear waste transportation incident. Second, it will be imperative to begin a public education campaign that addresses not only the steps that have been taken to prevent an accident, but also the measures that have been taken to mitigate the effect of any potential incident. Following this policy prescription will not only improve emergency response and strengthen homeland security, but also boost public confidence in the governments ability to transport highly radioactive waste safely. Ultimately, this approach also will help to ameliorate the political conflict associated with the radioactive waste transportation issue and moderate opposition to the waste shipments.
Keywords: emergency management; highly radioactive waste; highly radioactive waste transportation safety; homeland security; spent nuclear fuel transport; transportation of highly radioactive waste; vulnerability of highly radioactive waste shipments