Have you ever been on the interstate and wondered what type of material the commercial motor vehicle next to you is transporting?  What if I told you there are specialized CMVs transporting radioactive waste across the state of Georgia?  Some people might be frightened by this, but here is why you shouldn’t panic.  There are Motor Carrier and Compliance Division officers who are trained to inspect CMVs transporting radioactive material and do exercises regularly to be prepared in case of a crash.  On Thursday, March 28, the Georgia Emergency Management & Homeland Security Agency (GEMA/HS) hosted an exercise in Dalton, GA.  The training focuses on emergency responses to crashes involving radioactive and hazardous material.  This opportunity was open to North Georgia emergency responders, local and state government officials.  The participants in the exercise were from the Motor Carrier and Compliance Division (MCCD), Dalton Fire Department and Whitfield County Fire Department.  GEMA/HS and DOE take all necessary safety precautions to equip government officials such as MCCD, Dalton Fire Department, and Whitfield County Fire Department with emergency plans, procedures, and guides and response actions to emergency crashes involving radioactive and hazardous material.

 

The exercise began with an interactive discussion about emergency plans, procedures, guides and response actions that would be implemented in the event there is a wreck involving radioactive material.  Each of the exercise’s scenarios had complex factors such as controlled contamination, roadway safety, and environmental concerns.  The second portion of the exercise was a hands-on emergency response to a staged crash involving radioactive waste.  Officer Phillips (MCCD Region 1) participated in the exercise to refresh his level six inspection knowledge in the transportation of radioactive and hazardous materials.  Officer Phillips was equipped with special technology to read radiation measurements while completing the criteria of a level six inspection.  A level six inspection is critical because an MCCD officer will determine whether or not a CMV is safe to transport radioactive material. The Commercial Vehicle Safety Alliance (CVSA) states, “As of Jan. 1, 2005, all vehicles and carriers transporting Highway Route Controlled Quantities of radioactive material are regulated by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT) and required to pass the North American Standard Level 6 Inspection.”

Storage for radioactive material includes industrial, Type A and Type B packaging.  The truck Officer Phillips completed a level six inspection on had three Type B shipping containers.  Type B packaging is used to transport materials that would be a radiation hazard to the public or the environment if exposed.  Therefore, Type B packages must demonstrate its ability to withstand tests simulating normal shipping conditions and withstand severe accident conditions without releasing its content.  These massive containers can weigh as much as 121 tons.  You can rest at ease knowing the CVSA and the DOE do an extensive outreach program concerning the transportation of radioactive and hazardous materials.  Truck drivers who transport radioactive material have a high level of professional experience and are required to have no accountable incidents on their driver history within the past ten years, regardless of the circumstances.  Although it is important to prevent crashes from occurring, the Department of Energy (DOE) is aware that trained officials should be prepared to respond to an emergency crash involving radioactive material.  With the proper training, MCCD officers have the ability to complete level six inspections with the proper plans, guides, and procedures to prevent crashes involving radioactive material.

This blog was written by Nicholas Butler, MCCD Media Relations Specialist.