Customers will benefit from rail expansion project at Alaron

In late 2022, Alaron Nuclear Services completed a months-long project to double the rail capacity at its facility in western Pennsylvania, an investment that gives waste generators a more cost-effective alternative to truck transport for low-level waste disposal.

The expansion will allow up to 24 rail cars on the Alaron site, which means more opportunity for transloading to Alaron's customers. The expansion means Alaron can process more shipments into and out of its facility, doubling the capacity to handle transloading shipments via consolidating them into covered gondola rail cars.

Transloading is a shipping term that refers to the transfer of goods from one mode of transportation to another en route to their final destination. The economics of transloading provide a huge savings to customers shipping waste. Truck hauling prices have soared both from higher diesel prices and a shortage of truck drivers, making rail much more economical.

“For waste generators within 500 miles of western Pennsylvania, this is a clearly cost-effective alternative to LLW truck shipment for disposal,” said David Wilburn, Business Development Director at Alaron. “Even those who are more than 500 miles from Alaron can realize significant savings by taking advantage of our transloading capabilities for waste disposal.

An Alaron evaluation of the cost to perform transload of intermodal containers (IMCs) showed that customers will save approximately $2,000 per IMC by transloading then shipping to the disposal site in Texas, Wilburn said. One gondola car holds about five IMCs, roughly 267,000 pounds of material – which translates to a savings of about $10,000 per rail car.

Mike Unruh, manager of the project, said the crew from Kennedy Railroad Services in Jackson, Ohio, did a great job. Despite some weather delays and material issues, the project finished very close to schedule.

Alaron handles low-level dry active waste and typically consolidates into carefully lined and covered gondola cars. The facility has two transloading areas on site and a 125-ton capacity indoor crane location for large equipment transloading. Transloading of large pieces of equipment, like tanks or heaters, by segmentation also provides significant cost savings over truck shipment.

In 2023, Alaron will begin an arrangement with customers to use an on-site free-release (non-radioactive) storage area for their equipment. This will result in more transloading and storage opportunities at Alaron.