Working with researchers at Carleton University, the NWMO recently completed a detailed assessment of potential radiological exposure resulting from the transportation of used fuel in a reinforced and shielded Used Fuel Transportation Package. The assessment covered both members of the public along potential transportation routes and transportation workers, and was based on data collected along Canadian roads.
In each case, the assessment found annual doses to be significantly below the regulatory public dose limit of 1 milliSievert per year.
“One way to look at the results is to compare them to how long you would have to fly in a jet airplane to get the same level of exposure to radiation,” explains Ulf Stahmer, Senior Transportation Engineer at the NWMO. “Let us say you are a hitchhiker along a highway and are exposed to six passing shipments. That is equivalent to one second of flying time. Or let us say that you are controlling traffic for a road construction crew and are exposed to 260 passing shipments. That is equivalent to eight minutes of flying time.”
Previous estimates were based on generic, internationally available exposure time, distance and frequency assumptions. The Carleton researchers considered a wide variety of possible exposure scenarios, from people living along transportation routes, pedestrians, hitchhikers, the crew in the truck transporting used nuclear fuel, and drivers and passengers in the truck’s vicinity.