March 16, 2023
Conference Paper

Verification and Validation of the Stakeholder Tool for Assessing Radioactive Transportation (START) – 22323


The U.S. Department of Energy (DOE) Office of Integrated Waste Management is planning for the eventual transportation, storage, and disposal of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) and high-level radioactive waste (HLW) from nuclear power plant and DOE sites. The Stakeholder Tool for Assessing Radioactive Transportation (START) is a web-based, geospatial decision-support tool developed for evaluating routing options and other aspects of transporting SNF and HLW, covering rail, truck, barge, and intermodal infrastructure and operations in the continental United States. The verification and validation (V&V) process is intended to independently assess START to provide confidence in the ability of START to accurately provide intended results. The V&V process checks the START tool using a variety of methods, ranging from independent hand calculations to comparison of START performance and results to those of other codes. The V&V activity was conducted independently from the START development team with opportunities to provide feedback and collaborate throughout the process. The V&V analyzed attributes of transportation routes produced by START, including route distance and both population and population density captured within buffer zones around routes. Population in the buffer zone, population density in the buffer zone, and route distance were all identified as crucial outputs of the START code and were subject to V&V tasks. Some of the improvements identified through the V&V process were standardizing the underlying population data in START, changing the projection of the population raster data, and changes to the methodology used for population density to improve its applicability for expected users. This collaboration also led to suggested improvements to some of the underlying shape file segments within START. A formal series of test routes went through the V&V process from START version 3.2.1 following the implementation of the recommended improvements to START. The V&V of the buffer zone population and distance reported in START were achieved by utilizing a custom workflow developed in QGIS. This platform was chosen because it is fully independent of START. The buffer zone population and route distances in START showed excellent agreement to independent V&V test results. Over 200 route test cases were run; in all cases, the percent difference in the population within the buffer zone was less than +/- 5%, and the majority of cases were below +/- 1%. These cases were also duplicated in ArcMap, which is Environmental Systems Research Institute’s (ESRI) GIS desktop application. The ArcMap results also show good agreement; however, they cannot be considered independent of START because START also uses ESRI software. The V&V tasks are currently addressing population density and estimated radiation dose in START as well as implementing further automation of the V&V process to allow larger suites of test routes to be run more easily and quickly by less experienced GIS users. These improvements to the V&V process will make it a valuable tool for the development team and the stakeholders so that each new iteration of START can easily be checked for quality and consistency. This paper and presentation will describe the V&V process, findings and implications, and ongoing V&V activities.

Published: March 16, 2023


Condon C.A., P.J. Jensen, P.D. Royer, H. Gadey, M. Abkowitz, R. Claypool, and S.J. Maheras, et al. 2022. Verification and Validation of the Stakeholder Tool for Assessing Radioactive Transportation (START) – 22323. In Waste Management Symposia 2022, March 6-10, 2022, Phoenix, AZ 2022,, Paper No. 22323. Tempe, Arizona:WM Symposia, Inc. PNNL-SA-169303.

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