sent to UK by Mystake
Independent, 9 October 1999
PRODI, the EU president, ordered a review of the transportation of radioactive
material across Europe after a shipment of plutonium destined for France
arrived in Oxfordshire by mistake.
It raised issues about the bureaucracy attached
to radioactive transportation after it emerged the mistake occurred
because of bungled paperwork. There was no radiation leak or other contamination
of people or property, the European Commission said last night but Mr
Prodi ordered the review of procedures to prevent a repeat of "this
plutonium was discovered yesterday by workers at the Croft Company in
Abingdon, where the containers used for carrying dangerous material
are routinely maintained. The container arrived for mandatory maintenance
but when workers opened it they found plutonium that should have been
shipment should have been offloaded in Belgium more than a month ago.
It had been prepared in Geel, Belgium, and should have been transported
to a nuclear processing plant in France. But Belgian delays in completing
the export paperwork meant that it was still in Geel when the deadline
arrived for the container's routine maintenance, so the container was
rerouted to Oxfordshire still filled with plutonium.
was opened there on October 7. Inside the ... container the radioactive
material was properly and securely packaged," said a Commission statement.
"There was no leak of radiation, no contamination or irradiation of
the premises, nor of any person."
The Belgian and British authorities were told what
had happened, and the container is now at the Atomic Research Centre
Mr Prodi has brought in two commissioners, Loyola
de Palacio, in charge of transport and energy, and Phillipe Busquin,
responsible for research, to lead the inquiry. "I am relieved that this
regrettable incident had no harmful consequences. However, I am deeply
concerned that it could have happened," he said.