CVSA urges use of technology for radioactive material shipments

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The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance is recommending that the U.S. Department of Energy choose the most reliable and promising technologies for future use and pay special attention to shipment security and tracking. CVSA presented the findings of its report titled “Safety and Security Technologies for Radioactive Material Shipments” last week at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Environmental Management’s National Transportation Stakeholders Forum in Denver.

“The technologies that were examined during this study are changing on a constant basis,” says Larry Stern, CVSA’s director of the Level VI program. Specific technologies that currently are available and that CVSA recommends for the safety and security of radioactive material shipments are RFID, GPS, biometrics, seals and locks. “These technologies have been tested, in operation for some time, and have good performance records,” Stern says.

The report, published in April, recommends DOE involve the regional state government groups in the overall process; address all five technology application areas presented in the report; pay special attention to shipment security and tracking indicating that stakeholders are especially interested in tracking not just the tractors, but also the trailers and shipping casks; make a special effort to involve stakeholders from states who currently do en route inspections due to state laws or policies; upgrade Transcom to report in real time the dose rate measurements of the package; and follow the progress of the Hazardous Materials Cooperative Research Program Project report studying electronic shipping papers and obtain a copy of the final report for review and possible implementation.

As part of the report process, CVSA reviewed current technologies considered important to the safety and security of radioactive material shipments, then reviewed nine emerging technologies identified by the Transportation Research Board project report with respect to the five technology applications areas important to the safety and security of radioactive material shipments. CVSA also examined several current and emerging technologies that have potential to benefit the safety and security of DOE radioactive material shipments. The technologies were evaluated for relevance to one or more of five application areas considered to have importance to the safety and security of radioactive material shipments.

The conclusions address each of the five application areas as follows: inspection technologies; security technologies (driver, power unit, trailer and shipping casks); radioactive material dose rate measurement and isotope quantification technologies; shipment and tracking technologies (tractor, trailer and individual casks); and electronic shipping paper technologies. To view the report, go to www.cvsa.org, click on programs, then click on the Level VI Program, then “Report updates.”