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Transport of Radioactive materials

The legal basis for the actions of the European Commission in the field of transport of nuclear materials has its origin in the EC Treaty Title V on the common transport policy and in the EURATOM Treaty Chapter III, which provides the legal framework for setting the Basic Standards on radiation protection.

Legal Basis and Action Programme

While the regulations on the transport of radioactive materials are drawn up by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna and transposed into the national legislation of each country, the European Community must ensure that these provisions are in conformity with the Council Directives on radiation protection (based on Articles 31 and 32 of the Euratom Treaty) and that they facilitate the functioning of the internal market. Title V of the EC Treaty on the common transport policy also gives the Community certain responsibilities in the transport of dangerous goods. Council framework Directives 94/55/CE and 96/49/CE provide for the approximation of the laws of the Member States on the transport of class 7 dangerous goods.

In order to support these activities the Commission in 1982, at the request of the European Parliament, set up a Standing Working Group (SWG) of national experts with specific competence in the field of safe transport of radioactive materials. The SWG organises exchanges of information on the application of the regulations on the international transport of radioactive materials (TRM) between Member States and both within and outside the European Union. It makes proposals for Commission action in the field of TRM designed to furnish the basic knowledge required to develop the international regulations.

The Commission has also been asked to keep the European Parliament and the Council abreast of any new developments in the transport of radioactive materials and to inform them of the SWG's recommendations.

The most recent report, the 5th Report pdf - 202 KB [202 KB] All available translations., by the SWG is annexed to the Communication pdf - 40 KB [40 KB] to the Council and the European Parliament summarises activities covering the period 1998 - 2004.

The main issues are:

  • Harmonisation of regulatory requirements and assessment procedures in licensing and inspection processes in the MS
  • Implementation of security measures for the transport of radioactive materials
  • Illicit trafficking: each MS to establish a system of notification, licensing, inspection and enforcement (use, storage, transport…)
  • Emergency response actions to ensure adequate levels of radiation protection
  • Denial of shipment by some carriers, sea ports and airports.

The Commission has undertaken:

  • to develop and present proposals which would open the way to a true Community approach to nuclear safety
  • to rapidly progress towards sustainable solutions for the management of radioactive waste

The Transport of radioactive materials, due to its strategic position in the process, also forms an important part of the work.

Future Work of the European Commission

A study to assess the impact of the regulatory framework on the above duties and obligations with respect to the initial objectives of protection and safety in transport of radioactive material and on the facilitation of free movements of goods and services has been finalised.

This study assessed the transposition of the European regulatory framework regarding transport of radioactive material in the Community into domestic legislation, analysed the different approaches developed in the Member States for the regulation of transport activities and assessed the difficulties met by carriers in international and intra-community operations.

Proposed further developments:

  • Harmonisation of documents and of the data contained in the accompanying transport certificates
  • A methodology to achieve simultaneous certification of packaging would facilitate the development of the Internal Market in this area. The use of a unique format and a similar structure of the Safety Report for all types of packages would go a long way in this direction.
  • The development of a mechanism to achieve simultaneous validation in the other Member States of the approval issued by the competent authority of the state of origin of the shipment and a mutual recognition of transport licences would facilitate the free circulation of these types of materials in the European Union.