First quarter of 1999

Official Report (Hansard, column 570) - TRADE AND INDUSTRY

Minister's declaration on the shipment of MOX from Europe to Japan

[Posted 01/03/1999]

Plutonium Shipments

Mr. Llew Smith (Labour MP): To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what assessment was made of the security and safety arrangements covering the plutonium shipments from France to Japan in 1992 prior to deciding upon the appropriate arrangements for the forthcoming shipment of plutonium MOX fuel from Sellafield to Japan. [72962]

Mr. Battle (Minister of Trade and Industry) : The transport of MOX fuel from Europe to Japan will be undertaken in full accordance with internationally agreed commitments and recommendations on physical protection, reflecting the concern of all parties to prevent the proliferation of sensitive nuclear materials. The Government are satisfied that the security measures proposed for the shipment of MOX fuel provide at least the same level of protection as the arrangements which were in place for the 1992 shipment of plutonium from France to Japan and that they are adequate and make the security risks negligible.

The ships which will be used for the shipment of MOX fuel meet the highest safety rating of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), a United Nations agency, which regularly reviews its regulations. The design and construction of the ships are approved by the Department of the Environment, Transport and the Regions and by Lloyds Register. The ships have a range of safety features which exceed those found on conventional cargo vessels. PNTL has been safely transporting nuclear fuel by sea for over thirty years during which time its ships have covered over 4.5 million miles without a single incident involving an escape of radioactivity.

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