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Educational road show teaches public about shipping nuclear waste via The Grand Island Independent

Waste produced from nuclear energy could begin to be shipped again from the Argonne National Laboratory this fall, and the Grand Island area is along the transportation route.

Shipments to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) near Carlsbad, N.M., were suspended in February 2014 by the U.S. Department of Energy after two incidents caused temporary closure of the underground repository. Once the plant reopened, shipments from transuranic waste generator sites resumed in April 2017.

Educational transportation road shows are being held in Nebraska and other states in preparation for the resumption of shipments from Argonne near Chicago to the WIPP location in New Mexico. The shows give the public a chance to look at the trucks, trailers and shipping containers, and teach residents about transportation protocols for safe transport of the waste.

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The WIPP transportation program began in 1999 and has accumulated more than 14 million miles and 12,200 shipments without significant incidents, said James Mason, with a U.S. Department of Energy.

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The containers come in two different sizes. The larger of the two measures 8 feet in diameter, 10 feet high and are constructed with leak-tight inner and outer containment vessels. They can hold up to 14 55-gallon waste drums. Each WIPP shipment can carry a maximum of three containers on a trailer.

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