April 2002

Wind flips trailer hauling nuke waste

Associated Press, March 29, 2002

[Posted 05/04/2002]

ARLINGTON, Wyo. (AP) – A tractor-trailer hauling radioactive material blew over on Interstate 80 early Thursday, according to Wyoming Department of Transportation officials.

No radioactivity was released and no one was injured in the accident, which happened around 7 a.m. about 35 miles west of Laramie, officials said.

WyDOT spokesman Bruce Burrows said the truck was carrying radioactive liquid in two one-liter padded containers. The containers were the only items inside the trailer.

Winds gusting up to 80 mph were recorded in the area when the trailer flipped on its side at the Cooper Cove Road interchange.

At least six wind-related crashes were reported Thursday morning on Interstates 80 and 25. Just north of Wheatland, an accident involving a pickup pulling a trailer closed I-25 for about 45 minutes.

Westbound traffic was diverted on the interchange ramps around the wreck until the tractor-trailer was righted and towed back to Laramie around 10:30 a.m. Eastbound traffic was unaffected.

The material remained on board the truck owned by Triad Transport Inc., of McAlester, Okla.

The material was headed to the Idaho National Engineering and Environmental Laboratory near Idaho Falls, Idaho, from a Cold War-era plutonium processing facility in Ohio, officials said.

The 1,050-acre former nuclear weapons plant, known as the Fernald site, is located about 18 miles northwest of Cincinnati.

Glenn Griffiths, deputy director of the Fernald office, said the bottles contained a liquid solution of plutonium and neptunium.

Although the solution is radioactive, “it is not waste and it is very low activity from a nuclear perspective,” he said.

If the solution had spilled, “at these quantities, it would have had to be a very low risk.”

The material is used to calibrate instruments and help analyze samples that might contain radioactive materials, he said.

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