UK Government Respond on Nuclear Waste Ship Fire

NEWS FROM THE CELTIC LEAGUE

The United Kingdom government (via its Maritime and Coastguard Agency) has responded to a query from the Celtic League about the fire on a Danish ship, the MV Parida, which was transporting nuclear waste from Dounreay in Scotland to Antwerp.

The query from the League was reported in January (see link):

https://www.celticleague.net/news/decc-quizzed-on-safety-of-nuclear-fire-ship/

The full text of the MCA response is set out below:

“16 February 2015

Dear Mr Moffatt

Parida Incident – 7 October 2014

Thank you for your letter of 5 January 2015 to Baroness Verma in which you raise a number of concerns about the safety of transporting radioactive substances on ships and in particular, the MV Panda. I would caution that we can only respond in general terms in relation to the incident as the investigation into the fire is ongoing and is being undertaken by the Danish Authorities. In this regard we look forward to the publication of the final accident investigation report by the Danish Authorities.

The carriage of dangerous goods, including radioactive materials is regulated under the International Maritime Dangerous Goods (IMDG) Code which is bought into force by Regulation in the UK. The IMDG Code sets out detailed requirements applicable to each individual substance, material or article with regards to the packaging requirements, special considerations when being carried, the stowage position when being shipped and segregation requirements in relation to other products listed in the IMDG Code.

All ships carrying dangerous goods, including the Parida and other vessels engaged in the carriage of ‘Class 7’ (Radioactive Material), are required to undergo regular surveys to ensure that the vessel is fit for purpose and the correct equipment is fitted and maintained to ensure the risk of a fire or pollution incident is kept to a minimum. It is our understanding that the Parida was fully compliant in this respect and had a
valid Document of Compliance for the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and an International Certificate of Fitness for the carriage of Packaged Nuclear Fuel.

The responsibility for ensuring the operational safety of ships is properly a matter for the commercial shipping industry, working in partnership with the tug and salvage
industries. The UK Government is satisfied that there is sufficient commercial tug capacity to provide an acceptable response to disabled vessels that break down, with the exception of North and North Western Scotland where a single Emergency Towing Vessel (ETV) is currently retained until at least 31 March 2016.

MCA analysis show that all vessels, when they have got into difficulty, have received the appropriate response including, when required, towage either from commercial tugs, RNLI lifeboats or from the EN. No ship has grounded or sunk nor has there been any pollution because of the lack of an available tow.

Once the accident report is finalised we will look forward to working with the Danish Administration on any lessons which are learnt from it.

Yours sincerely,

David Mac Rae
Marine Surveyor”

Pointedly, although assurances are given about the MV Parida having an ‘International Certificate of Fitness for the Carriage of Dangerous Goods’ no clarification about back up systems (such as though on purpose built UK nuclear transport vessels) is given.

Also, disturbingly, the correspondence indicates that the ETV support (which now consists of a single vessel in Scottish waters) will only be in place until March 2016.

Long time subscribers to CL News will be aware that the Celtic League campaigned for the retention of ETV provision which at one time consisted of four all weather towing vessels (Three on station Scotland, Wales and the Irish Sea and Cornwall and the Channel – with one under refit). The ETV cover was slashed and despite the MCA assurances it seems inevitable that a serious pollution incident will eventually occur (see links):

https://www.celticleague.net/news/eleventh-hour-reprive-for-etvs-welcomed/
https://www.celticleague.net/news/protest-grows-as-sea-rescue-cuts-looms/
https://www.celticleague.net/news/emergency-tug-withdrawal-dot-pressed-for-copy-of-risk-assessments/

The Celtic League will now raise the MV Parida issue with the Danish authorities.

J B Moffatt (Mr)
Director of Information

18/02/15

(Please note that replies to correspondence received by the League and posted on CL News are usually scanned hard copies. Obviously every effort is made to ensure the scanning process is accurate but sometimes errors do occur.)

ISSUED BY THE CELTIC LEAGUE INFORMATION SERVICE

The Celtic League has branches in the six Celtic Countries. It works to promote cooperation between these countries and campaigns on a broad range of political, cultural and environmental matters. It highlights human rights abuse, monitors all military activity and focuses on socio-economic issues

Internet site at:

Baile


https://groups.yahoo.com/group/celtic_league/

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