Dáil Éireann - Volume 486 - 28 January, 1998

Written Answers. - Transport of Radioactive Materials.

333. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the regulations, if any, which exist, to ensure that passengers and crews of ferries and aeroplanes are informed that they share journeys with the transit of radioactive materials; and, if not, the reason therefore. [2181/98]

334. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Public Enterprise the length of time the transit of radioactive materials have been transported on passenger ships and aeroplanes; and if she will review this practice. [2182/98]

335. Mr. Sargent asked the Minister for Public Enterprise whether radioactive material other than radioactive medical waste is permitted or has been accepted on passenger ferries or aeroplanes flights. [2183/98]

Minister of State at the Department of Public Enterprise (Mr. Jacob): I propose to answer Questions Nos. 333, 334 and 335 together.

[281] For many years now, the regulatory safety regimes laid down by the relevant international organisations for air and sea passenger carriers provide strict standards of protection to facilitate the safe transport of radioactive materials. Such materials would typically be used for a whole range of medical, scientific and industrial purposes. In practice, such material carried on passenger aircraft and ships would not include irradiated nuclear fuel, plutonium or high level radioactive wastes.

On passenger aircraft, the carriage by air of dangerous goods, including radioactive materials, must meet the stipulated requirements of Annex 18 of the Convention on International Civil Aviation (the Chicago Convention) and the International Civil Aviation Organisation's (ICAO) Technical Instructions for the Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. The ICAO Technical Instructions are kept under regular review.

As regards the carriage of dangerous goods by sea, I understand from my colleague, the Minister for the Marine and Natural Resources, that the carriage of such cargo, including radioactive materials, on board passenger ships is governed by the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO). The Code which derives its authority from the 1974 SOLAS Convention and the 1973 Convention for the Prevention of Pollution from Ships lays down requirements in relation to the documenting, packaging, marking, stowage and safe carriage of dangerous goods.

The information provided to air and sea crews would be consistent with necessary safety standards relating to packaging, documentation, handling and stowage of such goods. Adherence to recognised international safety standards would ensure that there is no risk to passengers. Accordingly I understand that aircraft and ship passengers would not normally be advised of the nature of cargoes carried on board.

As to review of current practices, I understand that the 1996 regulations of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in this field are being used as a basis for further updating of the requirements for air and sea transport.