radioactive waste prototype

Discussion in 'HO Scale Model Trains' started by Santa Fe Jack, Sep 20, 2007.

  1. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    So, I work as an environmental engineer in real life, and deal a lot with radioactive waste issues. Once in awhile, there is something cool to see w.r.t railroads, as a lot of radioactive waste travels by rail.

    Here's a neat prototype pic of a naval nuclear reactor cask getting offloaded from a rail car at a waste disposal site:


    Seems to me that this would be cinch to model.

    If there is any interest in this sort of thing, I can dredge up more pictures of radioactive waste by rail prototypes, both truck and rail.
  2. Gary S.

    Gary S. Senior Member

    That is quite interesting. Man, that is one big hunk of metal.
  3. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    SFJ, interesting subject to model. I do have a nuclear power plant in my display, see "pics of Equity Junction" or "more pics of same" on this forum. It was a kit from Heljan purchased from Walthers. I believe it's still current. I see you work around the "lab". My expertise in that area dealt mostly with low level stuff like tritium or C14, sometimes I 131. You have to take the "I pills" for that one. Talking about waste, I remember when our local UC low level waste went to southern Nevada. One day one of the drums sprang a leak and the truck leaked a trail of low level radioactive material all the way to Bakersfield on Hw-5, about 250 miles or so, before they discovered it. No harm, you could barely detect it. But the feds went nuts. We had a good laugh on that one. Heck, I remember back in the 50's and 60's we simply dumped the stuff in a ditch out in a field near the Univ. Later, they built a medical school on that property. When we saw the lights glowing late at night over there we always speculated about the cause. Things have changed a bit I'd say. However, if you really want to get a good dose of radioactive material today, just live near a coal fired power plant. The emissions are heavy with uranium and thorium with tons going into the atmosphere every year. Those isotopes are abundant in soil and coal. But we normally don't burn the soil. While a nuclear power plant emits almost nothing. Go green, go nuclear. bob
  4. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    Bob -

    I'm with you on the dirtiness of coal and all that. I do computer modeling of low-level radioactive waste facilities (dumps) including the one in southern Nevada that you sent waste to (at the Nevada Test Site). I make a living cleanup up the junk that people just dumped in the ground back in the 50's even into the late 1980's. It's work that needs doing. I don't work at Los Alamos National Laboratory, but do live in close proximity to some of the older waste sites.

    Anyway, back to HO modeling of these things...

    If you have a nuke on your layout, perhaps you'd want to include some dry cask storage nearby. I've considered adding a geologic rad waste repository to my mountain, with little viewports and lights inside. Yucca Mountain even has rail in it now -- that'd be fun.

    I definitely plan to have a little hazardous waste cleanup operation going on out behind the engine shed, where Buddy used to dump the engine oil and solvents. Now that's very prototypical. Railroad maintenance yards are popular on the National Priority List (of Superfund sites that need attention.)
  5. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    SF Jack, that's interesting work. Did you happen to go to school in Davis or Berkeley doing environmental science? I was in the same building with a lot of those people back in the 70's and 80's to early 90's. Most were doing their Ph.D's. I saw a lot of computer modeling going on. Got to know quite a lot of the students and staff. Most went on to jobs in the federal EPA or in various state or private positions. bob
  6. Dirtyd79

    Dirtyd79 New Member

    I still remember that show the history channel had where they were talking about those. The train they showed hauling it had a flatcar on each end of the car hauling the load and a conrail bay window caboose on the end. I suspect that it was most likely railroad police officers riding in the caboose so nobody messes with the container.
  7. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    No, rhtastro, I am not California-trained. :) Now a Federal contractor, though.

    Dirtyd79 -- There is so much interesting stuff on the History channel... Wow. The empty flat beds surrounding the load were probably there for radiation protection. And yes, the caboose was probably a sort of "escort".

    Here's another rad waste train story for you all: At the Hanford Site (in Washington State) where they produced nearly all the cold war plutonium, they had a special way of getting rid of really hot stuff. They would load things (all kinds of highly radioactive components) on a flat car, or liquids in a tanker, with enough empty flats between the load and the power to keep the engineer within acceptable dose levels, and cart it all off to a tunnel. It is a drift, technically, since it is just a dead end. This drift (there were two of these, I think) was angled into the ground a a couple of degrees, and was over a mile long into the subsurface. They would just hump the hot car into the tunnel, and let it slide on down the rails until it hit the other cars at the end. No one cared what it looked like down there - no one was ever going to go back in there to retrieve anything. One can only imagine the conditions at the bottom end of the drift. Once in a while a loco would get contaminated, and they would run that into the hole, too. This story comes from an old Hanford hand that I work with. He was there. Amazing.

    Now, that might be really fun to model! A cutaway view into the mountain or something below the benchwork -- this long angled drift, with flat cars, tank cars, and what-have-you all jumbled at the end, leaking radioactive materials all over the place. Wow.

    Too bad it's real. :(
  8. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    Here's another "waste" story. Back in the 50's a friend was attending a conference in Moscow, Soviet Union at the University. Across the street there was a large vacant area with a lot of apple trees in full bloom. My friend asked his Soviet colleague what that was over there after he noticed that the fence had been pushed down. He was told that that was the first nuclear waste dump in the Soviet Union, used when they were making material for their first bomb back in 1947. And it still had the best apples in Moscow. Everyone goes there to pick them. The conference was on nuclear safety and developing rules for the handling of nuclear waste.
    Maybe you can make a model of that one for your setup. In your business, that would be a winner. bob
  9. tomd81

    tomd81 New Member

    I would like to see more photos of nuclear loads.

    I am planning to have a nuclear reactor under construction on my layout. I need to get busy on my large flat and schnabel cars models and loads.

  10. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    Another story that could be copied for models. When I was doing graduate work during the late 50's I spent a few days at Arco, Idaho. It's famous for having the first nuclear reactor, I believe, or one of the first. There were many of them scattered across the desert. I was to sterilize meat in cans using the gamma rays emitted from old reactor rods from the materials testing reactor. It was the only reactor that could be used for peacetime uses. The others were making plutonium for bombs or other reactors. The rods were in about 40 feet of water and were glowing brightly. We dropped the cans down into the water in baskets and in a few hours they got a dose of 5.0 megarads or many, many times the lethal dose for a human. I could only stay in there for an hour as the dosage would have been too much for a longer stay and I would have been cooked too. The cans were rinsed and dried and then I took them back to our lab for storage and chemical analysis. The meat was sterile and stayed edible indefinately without freezing or heating. As hungry grad students, my wife and I had many steak dinners on some of that stuff. Of course it wasn't radioactive but tasted slightly burned. Some visitors to our dinners couldn't taste it at all. In those cases I didn't bother to tell them. Now, SF Jack, model that materials testing reactor with it's pool for cooling the rods. Hey, maybe I will. I remember what it looked like. It could be a deep pool next to my nuclear power plant. But I'd have to figure out how to make the rods glow in the dark. The rods could be match sticks, possibly. Maybe a little phosphorescent paint would do it-------- bob
  11. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    That reactor, which can still be seen at the end of a dirt road, has the distinction of being the first reactor to produce electricity for public use, and powered a small town nearby. The very first reactor, following the Chicago pile built in a squash court, was the Graphite Reactor in Oak Ridge Tennessee. It still stands today as well, now a historical monument.
    How about a little green (or blue?) LED hidden in the bottom of the pool? I've been playing a lot with LEDs, and their uses are many on the layout.
  12. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    SF Jack, great idea about the LED's. I'm going to do it. Bob
  13. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    cool. You know about how to set these up with the appropriate resistors for 12 v or 14 v or whatever, right?
  14. tomd81

    tomd81 New Member

    I have some photos of DODX nuclear loads on my web page

    Below is a photo of one of the 500 series of ATMX cars that was used to transport low level waste. I read some where that weapons were transported on the White trains along which used the 400 series cars (slightly smaller) along with their guard cars.

  15. tomd81

    tomd81 New Member

    Sante Fe Jack:

    I spent some time looking at you photo today, and I have a question about it, which shows the cask being lifted off the eight axle depressed flat. The cask that is being lifted, does not have the "cooling fins" like the one behind it. Was this a different type of cask, or were the fins taken off before the cask was lifted off?


  16. rhtastro

    rhtastro Member

    SF Jack, I think I'll use 2 green LED's in series with a 9 V battery and 1K ohm resistor in the line. That way I can put the circuit with the battery and a switch just below the base of the layout and won't have to run extra wires out there. Do you think that will work? I found a nice large area for the pool close to the reactor by moving things around a little. I might try some other colors too and see what the effect is. Thanks for the idea.

    Hey tomd81, those are great pics of nuclear waste vehicles? A model of one of those would look great on a siding next to my power plant. I know the Blue Mt's of Oregon very well, used to mine gold in them thar hills, shoot deer and work on a tourist RR as a volunteer. Brings back a lot of memories. Thanks for sharing. bob
  17. tomd81

    tomd81 New Member

    There was an article in Mainline Modeler five or more years ago on the AMTX cars that caught my interest. These cars look like upside down hoppers, so in the even of a derailment the cars will ride up on each other instead of breaking open. I have started a drawing of this car and it is on my stack to do.

    Here are a couple of others cars that could be on a siding next to your power plant. They will be found next to, or on the lead to my nuclear plant.

    For the steam generator replacement program. The photo is from a old NS World magazine (just after the Southern & N&W merger - early 80's)
    showing a steam generator being delivered by the worlds largest freight car, CEBX 800.


    An HO scale model of this car along with the steam generator load is available from Concept Models. I have one, and it is in my "to do" pile.

    Smaller transformer on the WECX 200, still needs to be finished. Another one from Concept Models.


    This ebay find will be delivering one of the large transformers.

    This one will become WECX 301, and will be used to deliver the reactor to my under construction power plant.


    Again model and load from Concept Models. Need detail work, paint, and decals.

    I have not decided what my GEX 80003 will be carrying but it will be large, maybe a turbine generator. Again from Concept Models.


    I need a couple of dedicated cabooses for the Westinghouse, and GE cars. I will also do one for Combustion Engineering, even though they did not have one.

  18. Bones

    Bones Member

    I don't think they're cooling fins. They look structural to me. It's probably just a different design.
    If they were cooling fins, I'd expect a great deal more of them with more length protruding.
  19. D.R.Rosser

    D.R.Rosser Member

    I have the same question as tomd81. I have a depressed flat and have started to get together the bits and pieces from my scrap (I prefer "possible future spare parts")collection. Need to know if there are two diff. kinds of containers. Dave
  20. Santa Fe Jack

    Santa Fe Jack Member

    I don't know about the potentially different types of containers. The ones in the photo do look a bit different, and I do know that NRC has approved several varieties.

    Tom - What a great collection of heavy load cars. I love the one with the reactor vessel. How do these monsters behave on a layout? Do they navigate turnouts smoothly, or do they get hung up on things?

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