Highest levels of safety (Peter Buchan)

I read with interest the letter you published from Martin Forwood on your website (“Emergency tug is ‘indispensable’ “) and thought that your readers would benefit from me clearing up a couple of the factual inaccuracies it contained.

The vessel that Mr Forwood referred to, the Oceanic Pintail, has an unblemished nuclear safety record. She is inspected annually and certified by the Maritime and Coastguard Agency (MCA).

She continues to be used because she is a high-quality asset with additional safety features, an excellent maintenance history and a lifetime of low use.

The Pintail is an INF3-class vessel – the highest level of the International Maritime Organization’s INF Code which regulates shipments by sea of packaged irradiated nuclear fuel, plutonium and high level radioactive wastes.

She is fitted with a wide range of safety features, including a double hull around her cargo spaces, twin engines and a comprehensive suite of built-in redundancy to all her critical operating systems. There is always a back-up system ready to be brought into operation.

For obvious security reasons our ships have a dispensation to not broadcast their position or other information publicly. However, all onboard systems for detecting vessels remain active and the master can turn back on the broadcast if it’s thought necessary for a safe passage. All of our transports are supported by a 24-hour emergency response system.

The transportation of nuclear materials is a tried and tested practice that’s been in place for decades without any major incidents.

Movements of nuclear material are subject to stringent regulations and can only take place if in compliance with all applicable legislation, and with the necessary authorisations from the independent Office for Nuclear Regulation.

Your readers are entitled to expect the highest standards of safety and security. This has been a focus of the regular engagement that continues to take place between local communities, the site operators, the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority and the Scottish government around the movement of nuclear materials from Dounreay.

Safety and security are the top priority for International Nuclear Services and we are extremely proud of our flawless nuclear safety record which stretches back over 40 years. Your readers can be assured that we will continue to work hard to maintain that record.

Peter Buchan
Director, shipping,
International Nuclear Services Ltd
Hinton House,


Add Your Comment
  • iantinkler

    • April 11th, 2016 9:31

    Interesting fact, In the history of UK nuclear material transport, civil and military, there has never been a single case of radiation sickness due to accidental exposure, with the sad exception of accidental exposure in the medical field. During this time literally millions of medical investigations and treatments, using ionising radiation have saved countless lives and reduced the suffering of millions more. An emergency tug, no doubt would be useful for the oil industry, where accidents and pollution have killed tens of thousands, but however, nuclear transport is not the problem here.


Add Your Comment

Please note, it is the policy of The Shetland Times to publish comments and letters from named individuals only. Both forename and surname are required.

Comments are moderated. Contributors must observe normal standards of decency and tolerance for the opinions of others.

The views expressed are those of contributors and not of The Shetland Times.

The Shetland Times reserves the right to decline or remove any contribution without notice or stating reason.

Comments are limited to 200 words but please email longer articles or letters to editorial@shetlandtimes.co.uk for consideration and include a daytime telephone number and your address. If emailing information in confidence please put "Not for publication" in both the subject line and at the top of the main message.

200 words left

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.


Get Latest News in Your Inbox

Join the The Shetland Times mailing list to get one daily email update at midday on what's happening in Shetland.