A full-scale model of equipment that will begin transporting radioactive material through a corner of Utah beginning this fall was displayed Monday in Salt Lake City.
The equipment, a tractor, trailer and three transporters designed by Westinghouse Electric Corp. on contract with the U.S. Department of Energy, was shown in the Utah Department of Health parking lot."We're just here to let people know what the equipment will look like on the highway and to show the durability of construction," said Tarek Khreis, a spokesman for Westinghouse Electric Corp.'s Waste Isolation Pilot Plant near Carlsbad, N.M.
Khreis said the equipment, including stainless-steel containers, will be used to transport waste material from sites such as Hanford, Wash., and the National Energy Laboratory near Idaho Falls. In Utah, the only route used will be I-15 from the northern Utah border to Tremonton and Ogden and east on the interstate system to Wyoming.
Khreis said no liquid radioactive materials, solids or powders will be transported in the containers, which are constructed of heavy materials and then placed within barrels.
Most of the material will be clothing, machinery, laboratory outfits and other equipment used by personnel to protect themselves when working with radioactive material.
Because of the durability of construction, there is little danger of the heavy containers and barrels rupturing, should one of the rigs overturn, Khreis said.
However, state environmental health personnel have been trained to respond, should one of the pieces of equipment overturn.
The semitrailer-truck will be equipped with a satellite tracking system, making it possible for the Department of Energy at Carlsbad, N.M., to track shipments anywhere from 10 sites throughout the United States.
Khreis said that in the past, radioactive clothing and equipment has been buried in shallow graves or stored above ground.
Once the materials reach the New Mexico site, they will be buried in salt respositories 2,150 feet below the ground.