In 2007, two severe transportation accidents occurred in the state of California. The first occurred in Oakland on a section of Interstate 880 known as the “MacArthur Maze” and involved a tractor trailer carrying gasoline which impacted an overpass support column and burst into flames. The subsequent fire caused the collapse of a portion of the Interstate 580 overpass onto the remains of the tractor trailer in less than 20 minutes, due to a reduction of strength in the structural steel exposed to the fire. The second incident was a chain-reaction accident involving over thirty tractor trailers in the Interstate 5 “Newhall Pass” truck bypass tunnel in Santa Clarita. This accident also involved an intense fire, fueled mostly by produce and other food commodities, that damaged the concrete walls of the tunnel and required the tunnel to be closed for repairs. The US Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) is in the process of studying both of these accidents to examine any potential regulatory implications related to the safe transport of spent nuclear fuel in the United States. This paper will summarize work recently completed on these severe transportation accidents by the NRC.

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