Dept of the Environment, Transport,
and the Regions
Radioactive Materials Transport Division
Zone 4/16
Great Minster House
76 Marsham Street
London SW1P 4DR

Direct line: 0171-271-3870
Fall: 0171-271-3878

Our ref: DGB 23/ 11/06
Your ref:

Mr. Paul Leventhal
Nuclear Control Institute
1000 Connecticut Avenue
Suite 804
Washington D C 20036

2 December 1997

Dear Mr. Leventhal

Thank you for your letter of 5 November, addressed to Gavin Strang, about the sea transport of nuclear material, particularly mixed oxide nuclear filet (MOX). I have been asked to reply on his behalf.

As explained in answer to a recent parliamentary question (Official Report 4 Nov 1997, col 139-40):

Mr Llew Smith: To ask the Secretary of State for the Environment, Transport and the Regions, which ships have been licensed for the sea transport of MOX fuel assemblies to (a) other European Union member states, (b) Japan and (c) other countries from the United Kingdom. [13749]

Ms Glenda Jackson: There is no requirement for United Kingdom ships to be licensed for this purpose. However, the International Maritime Organization has adopted the "Code for the Safe Carriage of Irradiated Nuclear FueL Plutonium and High-Level Radioactive Wastes in Flasks on board Ships"—INF Code. United Kingdom companies involved in transporting MOX fuel assemblies by sea use ships complying with this code, irrespective of destination.

This sets out the Government's position, which also applied to the particular shipment of October last year to which you refer.

The INF Code does not preclude the use of roll-on/roll-offvessels, in any of its three classifications, provided all relevant requirements are met, according to the total radioactive quantity carried.

Neither safety nor security considerations during trans-shipment determine the choice of ro-ro vessel in preference to any other vessel type: though such vessels may offer some advantage operationally. The packages used to carry radioactive material are designed and approved to ensure radiological safety, even in the event of a serious accident occurring, and all international movements of nuclear material fully comply with the requirements of the Convention on the Physical Protection of Nuclear Material.

It is not possible to indicate the countries to which MOX fuel may be shipped in the future, since this is a commercial matter for BNFL and depends on their success in securing fixture contracts.

Yours sincerely,


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