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.
International Nuclear Services Ltd