Power Magazine – How Air Bearings Moved Tons of Nuclear Waste

January 2, 2019 –  Heavy loads must often be moved at power plants of all types. Air bearing-based vehicles can make the process safer, faster, and cheaper. Cask relocation at a nuclear waste facility offers one successful example of the process in action. 

Load moving in the nuclear industry comes with unique challenges, particularly when the cargo is high-level radioactive waste (HLW) stored in specially sealed canisters. The common method for moving these types of casks is with wheeled casters and rails. However, the technique is inefficient and costly due to lack of mobility and inherent risks associated with the process. When a load becomes imbalanced, the floor beneath the track can be damaged to the point of halting the entire project until the flooring can be replaced. There is literally no margin for error and certainly no quick turnaround should an incident like this occur. 

As an alternative, several facilities have turned to air bearing-based vehicles, instead of inflexible wheeled rollers or forklifts, with considerable success. One 200-acre site in New York successfully relocated nearly 24,000 tons of radioactive waste using air bearing-based vehicles. Link to article

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