What are the potential health risks from transportation of depleted uranium metal or oxide?
In the PEIS, risks associated with transportation of depleted uranium oxide and metal were estimated for transport by either rail or truck. Normal transport of oxide or metal would result in low-level external exposure to radiation for persons in the vicinity of a shipment. Based on estimates in the PEIS, the levels of exposure would result in negligible increased cancer risks.
Risks from material released in an accident were also estimated. For a hypothetical railcar accident involving powder U3O8 that was assumed to occur in a highly-populated urban area under stable (nighttime) weather conditions, it was estimated that up to 20 people might experience irreversible adverse effects from chemical toxicity, with no fatalities expected. Approximately 2 potential latent cancer fatalities from radiological hazards are estimated for an accident under the same conditions. The probability of such an accident occurring is very low. The consequences from a truck accident would be lower, because trucks have a smaller shipment capacity. The consequences of transportation accidents involving depleted uranium metal would be much smaller than those involving uranium oxide because uranium metal would be in the form of solid blocks and would not be easily dispersed in an accident.
(For more details on risks from transportation of uranium oxide or metal, see also Appendix J of the PEIS.)
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