Did you know there are more than 100 operating nuclear power reactors operating in 31 states by 30 different power companies in the USA? Nuclear energy currently accounts for almost 20% of our nations' base load power generation and is said to be on the verge of a 'nuclear renaissance' in America with more planned reactor units to come online after more than 30 years without any new nuclear construction in our nation. The nuclear power industry has a stellar safety record and works hard to maintain their plants to extremely high standards of efficiency through regular outage work typically performed semi-annually during periods of decreased power demand. Perkins has developed an excellent resume of engineered transportation project work performed in compliance with DOT 49 CFR and the ASME NQA-1 standards involving the movement of irradiated large components to Utah for burial removed from both operating and decommissioned nuclear facilities and of the inland transportation of new replacement components in operating plants.
One of Perkins nuclear transportation success stories to be chronicled is the highway transportation of a new reactor vessel closure head (RVCH at 189,200 lbs with shipping dimensions of 17' - 2" diameter by 13' - 10 height. Built by a US nuclear component facility in Mount Vernon, IN for a French nuclear manufacturer, Perkins was contracted to perform the RVCH's delivery to the nuclear power plan in Avila Beach, CA situated on the Pacific Ocean about half way between San Francisco and Los Angeles. In order to minimize the loaded height of our hauling configuration in Indiana and Illinois and to move under unavoidable low obstructions in California near the final destination, Perkins utilized an 18' - 0" wide modular dual land loading (DLL) girder suspension system with a handing bunk arrangement for the head. This acted as a load deck under the RVCH's shipping steel.
After the RVCH was lowered onto the bunks, the load was hydraulically lifted using the jacking towers in the girder suspension system transport to the desired travel height of 15' - 5" and secured for transport. After departing Illinois, the load was lifted again to a slightly higher elevation to allow for higher travel speeds in the western states. The loaded height was lowered again once the Perkins transporter reached the San Louis Obispo, CA area to safely move under low overpasses and other overhead obstructions.
It is important to note that 10 different state permitting agencies were involved on this move each with different requirements for width to be approved for DLL transportation. While beginning the 3,025 mile circuitous journey with our DLL axle width at 18' - 0", the transporter was hydraulically narrowed while still under load to 16' - 0" for the South Dakota portion of the route and extended back out to 18' - 0' for Wyoming and Utah, and yet again back to 16' - 0" to comply with both Nevada and California permit requirements for the move. The RVCH was delivered on schedule, intact, and without injuries or incident to the satisfaction of all invovled.