Moving a Nuclear Reactor Down a Nevada Highway

Question: How Do you Move a 1.5 Million Pound Nuclear Reactor across the Nevada Highways?
Answer: Very, Very Slowly, and with a lot of help!

That’s what they were starting to do today and I wanted to see it happen.  So I was up before the sun, hoping to catch them setting it up and getting ready to move the decommissioned nuclear reactor.  This giant piece of machinery was delivered to the Apex Industrial Park in North Las Vegas, earlier this month.  From there, it was to start its 400-mile journey down the highways of Nevada and finally into a nuclear storage facility in Northern Utah.

How Big? It is a 1.5 million pound, 16.5-foot-diameter decommissioned reactor pressure vessel from the Southern California Edison’s San Onofre Nuclear Generating Station. Say that fast!!  Its final destination is a nuclear waster storage facility in northern Utah.


The reactor arrived in North Las Vegas last week from the generating station, via a specially designed rail carrier.  Actually, everything it took to move this thing had to be specially designed. The last few days have been spent unloading it from the railcars to the custom truck and trailer transport system for the rest of its journey.

As of this morning, it was sitting in the Apex industrial area, north of Las Vegas. Final preparations for this super-size move began at just before sunrise. The reactor will mark the largest item to ever travel on Nevada roads.

Nevada Nuclear Reactor
A Lot of Rubber on the Roadway!

Just How Large is this load?

Well, According to Tony Illia, Nevada Department of Transportation spokesman.


“The load is being moved across the state using six heavy-duty Class 8 trucks with four tractors pushing and two pulling using a series of interconnecting tow bars to create a 23-foot-tall by 306.5-foot-long train that will be the same length as the Statue of Liberty laid on its side,”

There will be a combined 4,000-horsepower used to transport the configuration, which will weigh in at a massive 2.4 million pounds. The load will be dispersed across 460 total tires, up to 18 inches in width to prevent damage to state roads, bridges, or drainage facilities, according to Mr Illia.

The total convoy will span up to 2 miles in length, including extra trucks, mechanics, and project managers!


Slow Moving

With the speed restrictions, it’s anticipated it will take seven days to travel the approximately 450 miles to reach its destination at Energy Solutions’ Nuclear Waste Facility in Clive, Utah, about 75 miles from Salt Lake City.

This morning they were moving at a speed far below the anticipated top speed of 10MPH.  I’m not kidding when I sat that you could walk faster than it was moving!!  The nice thing was that they were pulling it to the side as often as possible to let the backup of traffic make their way around the convoy. And that added to the time it took to make it the short distance to my location.

Is This Dangerous?

According to reports, the canister has the least hazardous radioactive waste classification available by the Nuclear Regulatory Commission at less than 0.1 millirem an hour, or 500 times below the U.S. Department of Transportation limit. “A chest X-ray, by comparison, provides a dose of 10 millirem,” Illia said.

Although it seemed like it was never going to make it past my observation point just a few miles from where it began, after about 4 hours of waiting, it and its convoy finally passed by me and a few others who were also waiting to capture this moment.  And I can say, the sight was worth the wait.  That was amazing to see.  That’s a lot of wheels and a lot of power to move just one container.

After watching the possession and the backup traffic, I was out of there.  For the reactor, it was still moving on… That’s it.. It’s gone… It’s out of here…

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