'Ban radioactive cargo ship from Scottish waters'
ENVIRONMENTAL campaigners have urged the UK government to ban a transatlantic shipment of radioactive material which will pass through waters off the north of Scotland.
The Nuclear Free Local Authorities (NFLA) group and marine pollution experts say that they are "deeply alarmed" at plans to transport 16 bus-sized radioactive steam generators by sea from Canada to be cleaned up at the Studsvik recycling plant in Sweden.
The groups say the shipments are highly dangerous and have asked environment ministers to stop the cargos travelling through UK waters. The three-week journey aboard the MV Palessa would include passage through the Pentland Firth between Caithness and Orkney.
The Scottish Government said it would also be seeking assurances about the safety of the cargo.
A spokeswoman said: "We always have concerns about the transportation of radioactive waste and will be seeking assurances that this waste is transported in a safe manner through Scottish waters."
Earlier this month, the Ontario-based power company Bruce Power was granted a licence by the Canadian Nuclear Safety Commission to transport the generators to Sweden. A date for the ship to embark has not yet been finalised.
Studsvik will decontaminate around 90 per cent of the materials and sell the resultant scrap metal on the open market.
The generators will then be returned to Canada, where they will be stored at a facility by the Canadian utility.
According to the Canadian Coalition for Nuclear Responsibility, the radioactive levels of the generators exceed the legal limits of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) regulations for the safe transport of radioactive materials by 50 times.
NFLA chairman Bailie George Regan said: "I am extremely alarmed by the decision of the Canadian nuclear regulator to permit the transportation of this highly dangerous radioactive material shipment across thousands of miles of open sea to Sweden.
"The shipment will contain a cocktail of radioactive materials which even at low levels are potentially dangerous to human health.
"The implication of an accident involving such a shipment does not bear thinking about.
"It seems to me to be a risky endeavour to transport such shipments such long distances for clean-up, passing through the territorial waters of the UK and Ireland."
Orkney Islands Council (OIC) said it will investigate the type of material being shipped and the proposed route.
A spokeswoman said: "While OIC is not currently a member of the NFLA, it shares these organisations' concerns regarding anything that may be a threat to the marine environment, and particularly that of Orkney."We will be finding out more about the nature of the materials to be shipped, and the route that the shipment will take, and will seek to raise any concerns with the relevant ministers."
The UK Department for Transport said the transportation of radioactive materials is governed by strict, internationally agreed standards set out by the IAEA.
A spokesman added: "These regulations have been in place for decades and have ensured that such movements have maintained an excellent safety record.
"In addition, any radioactive material being transported by sea must be packaged and stowed in accordance with the International Maritime Dangerous Goods Code, and these shipments will be treated no differently."
Duncan Hawthorne, president and CEO of Bruce Power, said: "Safety is our number-one priority at Bruce Power and the timing of the shipment will be determined once all of the approvals are in place and conditions are determined to be optimal."
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Weather for Edinburgh
Saturday 18 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 13 C
Wind Speed: 18 mph
Wind direction: North east
Temperature: 9 C to 18 C
Wind Speed: 8 mph
Wind direction: North east