New Belgian transport vehicle for solid wastes

06 October 2021

A unique transport vehicle with integrated packaging for solid medium and high-level waste has been developed by Equans Specialized Nuclear Services on behalf of Ondraf/Niras, the Belgian agency for the management of radioactive waste. The vehicle has undergone testing and is expected to be put into service by the end of this year.

A demonstration of the Caroline-R80 cask loading/unloading system (Image: Ondraf/Niras)

Ondraf/Niras noted that radioactive wastes have various origins: they can be generated in nuclear power plants during the production of electricity, but also in research institutes that work with radioactive substances, for example. This waste includes, among other things, medium and high-level solid wastes which must be safely transported from the producers' sites to Ondraf/Niras's industrial subsidiary Belgoprocess in Dessel for processing and storage.

"About twenty transports of this type of waste are carried out each year," said Arno Grade of Ondraf/Niras. "This is why the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) asked us to develop specific transport packaging for this waste, which is itself contained in 400-litre drums."

Ondraf/Niras therefore contracted Equans SNS to design and build a transport vehicle with integrated packaging.

The Caroline-R80 transport system comprises a trailer with two integrated casks, plus an automated system for loading and unloading. The packaging complies with type B regulations for the transport of dangerous goods.

"This unique transport vehicle has been extensively tested at waste generator sites over the past 18 months," Grade said. "These were tests in real conditions, but without radioactive waste: so-called 'cold' tests. The aim was to eliminate any flaws in the system. We checked whether the transport vehicle actually does what it is supposed to do in practice."

Ondraf/Niras said the issues identified during cold testing have now almost all been resolved.

"At the end of the summer, it was therefore possible to present the transport vehicle again to the waste producers," Grade said. "The demonstration took place at the Equans SNS site, where the main focus was on loading and unloading a waste drum. This procedure must be clear and transparent for the security services of the producers. This allows them to properly assess the potential risks."

The new transport vehicle is expected to be ready to be launched by the end of the year.

"Equans SNS still needs to make some final adjustments," Grade noted. "Once this is done and once we have obtained the necessary approvals from FANC, Caroline-R80 will be able to carry out its first real transport with radioactive waste."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News