HC Deb 01 February 1977 vol 925 cc120-1W
Mr. Hoyle

asked the Secretary of State for Transport (1) how nuclear waste from foreign countries is transported; and at what ports it arrives in the United Kingdom;

(2) how many journeys of foreign nuclear waste took place by each form of transport in 1976;

(3) whether any accident occurred in the transport of nuclear waste from foreign sources;

(4) whether any health hazards have been reported amongst the staff in transporting the nuclear waste from foreign sources;

(5) in the event of an accident relating to the transport of foreign nuclear waste, what emergency services would be brought into operation.

Mr. Horam

Irradiated fuel elements containing a very small percentage of waste material are transported to Wind-scale from a number of countries for reprocessing. The fuel elements are transported in flasks, weighing approximately 50 tons, specially designed in accordance with internationally agreed standards which take into account the effects of severe accident conditions.

The ports of Barrow, Harwich, Hull and Poole have all been used for this purpose during 1976.

During 1976 there were 47 movements of such materials, all transported initially by sea. Of these, 24 movements involved rail transport and the remainder, road transport from the port to Windscale.

I am informed that no significant accidents have occurred in the transport of irradiated fuel elements from abroad and there is no indication of any staff having suffered hazards to health from their connection with such movements.

In the event of an accident relating to the transport of radioactive material, foreign or otherwise, the National Arrangements for Incidents Involving Radioactivity (NAIR) would be brought into effect. NAIR has been in operation since 1964 and involves experts in the field of radioactivity principally from nuclear establishments. All emergency services are fully aware of these arrangements.