Thursday, February 28, 2008

Don't let them relax uranium transport rules!

About 20 million packages of all sizes containing radioactive materials are transported around the world annually on public road, railways and ships.

With the comeback of nuclear power, there is an increasing demand for transportation of radioactive materials.

Wisely, regulations have been in place to strictly control their movement. But the industry is now complaining of bottlenecks and delays.

This is compounded by the fact that, sensibly, fewer and fewer transporters want to deal with the hazardous materials. Moeller Maersk, the world's largest container shipping line measured on vessel capacity, adopted a policy of not shipping radioactive materials in April 2007.

"It is a very complex problem," said Bernard Monot, external relations vice president at the logistics department of the world's biggest maker of nuclear reactors, Areva.

"The shippers complain about the port authorities, who in turn hold the shipping lines responsible and everybody accuses heavy regulations," he says.

So they want the rules cut.

For example in Holland, "It takes around six weeks to receive a permit," according to Pyter Hiemstra, spokesman for SenterNovem, the agency handling permits on behalf of the Dutch Department of Spatial Planning, Housing and Environment.

He said the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had asked countries to speed this up.

"What we would be looking for is for radioactive to be accepted for transit permission normally with 24 to 48 hours notice," said John Leach, General Manager for Dangerous Cargo, Special Cargo Management at Moeller Maersk.

The Low Carbon Kid argues hat the last thing we need is a relaxing of rule around the transport of radioactive materials. The world is a dangerous enough place as it is.

It is governments and local authorities and port authorities who control these rules. Write to your MP and ask them not to let these rules be relaxed.

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