Reassurance for villagers over cargoes

VILLAGERS have been reassured that every possible safety precaution is taken to deal with radioactive cargoes passing through their community.Worried residents had demanded to know just how much danger they are in after it was revealed that containers passing just yards from homes on road and rail were carrying highly hazardous materials.

VILLAGERS have been reassured that every possible safety precaution is taken to deal with radioactive cargoes passing through their community.

Worried residents had demanded to know just how much danger they are in after it was revealed that containers passing just yards from homes on road and rail were carrying highly hazardous materials.

People in Trimley St Mary were particularly alarmed because they had not even suspected that radioactive loads were being transported through the village.

But parish councillors have now been told the risk of an accident is low and that all safety procedures are strictly adhered to.

Paul Davey, corporate affairs manager for the port, gave details of the regulations the port has to follow and the emergency plans which are in place should anything untoward happen.

In a letter to the council, he said the port was guided by law on how each type of hazardous cargo - including radioactive materials - must be handled when it is imported or exported through the container terminal.

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Full risk assessments had been done and were regularly updated and all portworkers had been trained to deal with the cargoes.

Outside of the port complex, other authorities had responsibility for situations which might arise, but the port was fully involved and liaising closely with them over transportation and safety.

Radioactive material is transported from the port via the A14 bordering the Farmlands estate, and the Felixstowe-Ipswich railway line, which runs at the bottom of gardens in Chatsworth Crescent and Second Avenue.

But how much radioactive material is handled by Britain's biggest container terminal has not been disclosed.

Concern arose in the autumn after it was revealed that two containers of radioactive material arrived at the port from South Korea.

The containers were not carrying nuclear waste but packaging material which was used to protect radioactive material or devices and had been contaminated with traces of low-level radioactivity from its contact with the consignment.

It was being brought back to Britain for disposal.

Low-level radioactive cargo can be carried on Britain's roads and railways in special containers tested to be accident-proof. The radioactive material would be carried in lead, surrounded by polystyrene in a metal container, and then surrounded by polystyrene and cardboard, and housed in a metal container.

n What do you think - is it safe to transport radioactive material on our roads and railways? Write to Your Letters, Evening Star, 30 Lower Brook Street, Ipswich, IP4 1AN, or e-mail EveningStarLetters@eveningstar.co.uk

WEBLINKS: www.nrpb.org

www.portoffelixstowe.co.uk

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