Nuclear Materials Transportation Overview

Colorado has long recognized the importance of minimizing the potential risk to the public health, safety, and welfare of the citizens of the State of Colorado from radiological and nuclear materials and waste.  As an origination point of nuclear waste as well as a corridor state through which nuclear materials transit, the State has involved itself in proactive measures to prevent transportation incidents or to mitigate the effects of a transportation accident.  Preparedness efforts have lead to the development of safe and environmentally acceptable methods of transporting nuclear materials within this state in a manner consistent with state and federal laws.  Colorado Revised Statutes and well as the Code of Colorado Regulations actively address nuclear materials topics including routing, escorts, and how to acquire a Hazardous Materials Permit in addition to a Nuclear Materials Transportation Permit
The Colorado State Patrol Hazardous Materials Section serves as the designated agency to address current and anticipated nuclear materials and waste transportation shipments through the state.  In this capacity, the Colorado State Patrol is notified in advance of transportation of certain shipments of nuclear waste and spent fuel through the State of Colorado, as required by Section 301 of Public Law 92-295 and implemented by provision in Title 10 of the Code of Federal Regulations (10 CFR), Parts 71 and 73.
Regional coordination groups and non-profit agencies play a vital role in the planning for and oversight of transportation involving radioactive and nuclear waste and materials.  The Colorado State Patrol serves on several committees that work not only at a regional level but on a national level to promote the safe transportation of radioactive and nuclear materials and waste across the nation:
  • Western Governors’ Association – WIPP Transportation Technical Advisory Group.  This group is primarily involved in regional matters involving the transportation of transuranic waste to the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.
  • Western Interstate Energy Board – High-Level Radioactive Waste Committee.   This committee works on transportation planning matters dealing with the future movement of commercial spent nuclear fuel either to interim storage or final disposal.  This is of particular interest to the citizens of Colorado because it concerns the future transportation of commercial spent nuclear fuel currently in interim storage at the Fort St. Vrain Independent Spent Fuel Storage Installation near Platteville, CO. 
  • Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance – Hazardous Materials Committee and Level VI Inspections Committee.  These committees are dedicated to promoting safety of commercial motor vehicles that are transporting hazardous materials including radiological and nuclear materials by providing leadership to enforcement, industry and policy makers.
There are a number of radiological and nuclear waste streams that are in transportation across the nation.  The primary modes of transportation are highway and rail.  The Colorado State Patrol works in collaboration with a number of federal agencies to assure the cooperative planning for the safe transportation of radioactive and nuclear material and waste through Colorado, the western states, and across the nation.  These agencies include:
  • US Dept. of Energy
    • Environmental Management
    • Carlsbad Field Office for the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant Program
    • National Nuclear Security Administration, Office of Secure Transportation as well as Global Threat Reduction Initiative
    • Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program
  • Nuclear Regulatory Commission
    • University shipments of Spent Nuclear Fuel
  • Federal Railroad Administration
For over 30 years the State of Colorado has had a dynamic partnership with the US Dept. of Energy in support of the development of the model transportation program for permanent disposal of transuranic wastes at the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant.  Please click here to learn more about the Colorado WIPP safe transportation program and the vast resources that have been made available to the citizens of Colorado or particular note in support of emergency preparedness efforts.