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Aviation: Radioactive Materials

Volume 471: debated on Monday 28 January 2008

To ask the Secretary of State for Transport how many (a) flights and (b) other shipments were made where (i) spent nuclear fuel, (ii) nuclear waste, (iii) other high-level and (iv) other intermediate radioactive material was transported between the UK and a foreign country in the latest year for which figures are available. (180660)

[holding answer 21 January 2008]: There is a variety of categorisations of radioactive material for different purposes so it is not possible to relate shipments exactly to the categories in the question. The data cover all those shipments of radioactive material for which there is a regulatory requirement to notify one or more Government agency.

The Nuclear Industries Security Regulations 2003 require that the Office of Civil Nuclear Security is notified of intended shipments of nuclear material. During 2007 the following notifications were received:

Into the UK

Three shipments of spent nuclear fuel.

16 shipments of uranium fuel elements.

31 shipments of uranium hexafluoride.

Two shipments of uranium dioxide.

Five shipments of Am241.

From the UK

One shipment of mixed oxide (MOX) fuel elements.

61 shipments of uranium hexafluoride.

34 shipments of uranium dioxide.

Five shipments of Am241.

The regulations covering the transport of radioactive material require notification to the Department for Transport (DfT) of certain categories of shipment, mainly those containing very large quantities of radioactivity. In addition to some of the nuclear industry shipments listed above the DfT received notification of 16 shipments of large sealed sources for industrial/medical use into the UK and 34 shipments from the UK during 2007.

There were nine shipments of UK radioactive waste for treatment overseas (of which six will involve, in due course, repatriation of radioactive waste following the treatment). These shipments were authorised by the Environment Agency under the Transfrontier Shipment of Radioactive Waste Regulations 1993.

All the above shipments were by sea.