Simulated Nuclear Fuel Crash Helps Emergency Responders (VIDEO)

By Corinne Rose

August 28, 2013 Updated Aug 28, 2013 at 6:25 PM EDT

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (21Alive) --
You may have seen lots of emergency vehicles near the Fort Wayne airport Wednesday.

They were taking part in a simulated crash involving a train carrying nuclear fuel and a car.

The Navy uses trains to ship used nuclear fuel from submarines and aircraft carriers to a facility in Idaho. And one or two times a year, those trains come through Indiana.

Demonstrations like this are held every two years at sites across the country.

So the simulation helped local emergency crews go through the steps in case a car ever crashes into one of those trains... from treating the victim, to making sure nothing radioactive is released in the collision.

It's a way to help keep channels of communication open among local, state and federal agencies, and ensure that if something like this were ever to happen, each team knows its role in the disaster.

“Emergency preparedness is very important. I mean, these spent fuel shipments are part of the national security mission of the Navy. They're a necessary piece of that and our ability to put warships on station. And so we always want to be prepared for any eventuality,” says Tom Dougan of the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program.

According to the Naval Nuclear Propulsion Program, the walls of the stainless steel tanks holding the solid metal used nuclear fuel are more than a foot thick, and the containers have been extensively tested to be resistant to impact and heat.

Each shipment is also escorted by specially trained Navy couriers who would check out radioactivity after an incident like this.

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