Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Official websites use .gov
A .gov website belongs to an official government organization in the United States.

Secure .gov websites use HTTPS
A lock ( ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .gov website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Spent Fuel Transportation Package Response to the Newhall Pass Tunnel Fire Scenario



Kevin B. McGrattan, Harold Adkins


The Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) has established requirements that are the design bases for packaging and transportation of spent nuclear fuel assemblies under normal conditions of transport (NCT) and for hypothetical accident conditions (HAC). Real- world accidents of greater severity are possible, but of much lower probability, and the probability of such an accident involving a spent nuclear fuel (SNF) package is even lower. However, because of the possible risk to public safety of such an occurrence, the NRC has undertaken the examination of specific accidents, to determine what the potential consequences might be, were such an accident ever to involve an SNF package. Three previous studies of transportation accidents, one resulting in a fire in a railroad tunnel (the Howard Street Tunnel fire in Baltimore, MD), one in a highway tunnel (the Caldicott Tunnel Fire in Oakland, CA), and one on a highway interchange (the MacArthur Maze fire near Oakland, CA) were undertaken with four different SNF package designs. The Newhall Pass tunnel accident was selected as a fourth study in this series of evaluations of real-world accidents because of the long duration of the fire and the wide range of potential fire exposure scenarios, due to the large number of vehicles involved in the accident and fire.
U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission NUREG/CR


Fire modeling, thermal analysis, tunnel fire


McGrattan, K. and Adkins, H. (2015), Spent Fuel Transportation Package Response to the Newhall Pass Tunnel Fire Scenario, U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission NUREG/CR (Accessed May 21, 2024)


If you have any questions about this publication or are having problems accessing it, please contact

Created September 2, 2015, Updated October 2, 2017