Radioactive wastes are a big pain and worse you cannot just wish them away. The US government is looking for trains which will haul radioactive waste from the nuclear power plants to their final resting place. However these trains are not going anywhere.
The US Department of Energy has literally put the cart before the horse when it asked different organizations for ideas on how the government should get the rail cars needed to haul 150-ton casks filled with used, radioactive nuclear fuel. However these cars are not going anywhere soon. The Federal Government plans to have an interim storage site ready by 2021 and a long term geologic depository in 2048.
It is still not clear where those sites will be located. The Obama administration is thinking about contracts which will build up, test and endorse the necessary rail equipment. The responsibility of regulating the shipments rests jointly with The U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and Department of Transportation.
The Energy Department has solicited public opinion on the question of buying the rail cars or just leasing it. The cars which will be used to transport the radioactive wastes have to be special. It should be robust enough to last 30 years, must run on standard speeds on regular tracks, must be built in a way to accommodate the casks containing the radioactive wastes, and will be used up to eight times in a year. The trains will also have buffer cars to maintain a safe distance between the crew and the radioactive cargo.
The US military sends the spent fuel rods from its reactors on Navy ships to Federal Labs for storage. In between 1979 to 2007, the civilian nuclear power industry has hauled more than 2,300 tons by rail annually. This averages 9 trips annually.
Spent fuel rods are extremely hot and radioactive when it is removed from the reactors. Operators first cool these spent fuel in huge water filled tanks before shifting it into massive casks where they remain in hope that in future suitable technology will be developed to convert these dangerous wastes into harmless materials.