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Nuclear Waste

Volume 15: debated on Wednesday 16 December 1981

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asked the Secretary of State for Transport if he will describe the measures taken to ensure the safety of the public and of railway workers during the transport of nuclear waste by rail.

The transport of irradiated nuclear fuels by rail is carried out in accordance with the strict requirements of the International Atomic Energy Agency. The heavy flasks in which spent fuel is carried are designed and constructed to ensure the safety of the public and railway workers at all times and even in the event of a very severe accident. Stringent specifications are laid down regarding the permissible level of radiation exposure during transport and external contamination of containers. Special measures are taken to protect staff involved in handling operations and train crews are segregated from flasks by other wagons when trains are assembled for movement.As well as these precautions under IAEA requirements, British Rail operate its own special marshalling arrangements to ensure the safe segregation, and in some cases the total exclusion from the train, of particular goods which would present an additional hazard to nuclear fuel flasks in the event of an accident.