Rail Shipment of Radioactive Material

You don’t hear about it as much these days as in years past, but the shipment of radioactive material – mainly spent fuel rods from commercial reactors – by trains is still a contentious issue, particularly for those folks who live near the railroad tracks involved. Well, courtesy of my newest addiction – the Life Magazine photo archive – here’s a pretty fascinating look at a slightly different sort of railroad transportation of radioactive material:

According to the caption, this is a toy train – from Lionel, if you happen to care – being used to transport radioactive material throughout the laboratory at the historic Hanford Atomic Energy Plant in Washington State. A novel and inexpensive way to transport radioactive material, I suppose, though you have to wonder if the technicians didn’t just want an excuse to “play with trains”:

I suspect the toy-train industry’s contributions to scientific progress over the years is largely underrated. Geeks may be interested to know that this wasn’t the only use of a Lionel product in radiation-connected areas; the company also produced hundreds of thousands of Civil Defense radiological survey meters throughout the cold war…

Published in: Geekiness, General, History | on November 28th, 2008| No Comments »

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