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Spent Fuel Transportation Package Response to the Baltimore Tunnel Fire Scenario

Description: On July 18, 2001, a freight train carrying hazardous (non-nuclear) materials derailed and caught fire while passing through the Howard Street railroad tunnel in downtown Baltimore, Maryland. The United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission (USNRC), one of the agencies responsible for ensuring the safe transportation of radioactive materials in the United States, undertook an investigation of the train derailment and fire to determine the possible regulatory implications of this particular event for the transportation of spent nuclear fuel by railroad. Shortly after the accident occurred, the USNRC met with the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB, the U.S. agency responsible for determining the cause of transportation accidents), to discuss the details of the accident and the ensuing fire. Following these discussions, the USNRC assembled a team of experts from the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), the Center for Nuclear Waste Regulatory Analyses (CNWRA), and Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL) to determine the thermal conditions that existed in the Howard Street tunnel fire and analyze the effects of this fire on various spent fuel transportation package designs. The Fire Dynamics Simulator (FDS) code, developed by NIST, was used to determine the thermal environment present in the Howard Street tunnel during the fire. The FDS results were used as boundary conditions in the COBRA-SFS and ANSYS® computer codes to evaluate the thermal performance of different package designs. The staff concluded that larger transportation packages resembling the HOLTEC Model No. HI STAR 100 and TransNuclear Model No. TN-68 would withstand a fire with thermal conditions similar to those that existed in the Baltimore tunnel fire event with only minor damage to peripheral components. This is due to their sizable thermal inertia and design specifications in compliance with currently imposed regulatory requirements. The staff also concluded that some components of smaller transportation packages resembling ...
Date: November 15, 2006
Creator: Adkins, Harold E.; Cuta, Judith M.; Koeppel, Brian J.; Guzman, Anthony D. & Bajwa, Christopher S.
Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department