European TRAM developments

30 May 2001

The European Commission has financed several studies as part of an ongoing programme to help develop international regulations on the transport of radioactive materials (TRAM). By Loris Rossi & Antonio Tricas Aizpun

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 conform to 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.

In 1982 the Commission was asked by the European Parliament to 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 exchange of information on the application of the regulations on the international transport of radioactive materials (TRAM) between Member States and both into and out of the European Union. It makes proposals for Commission action in the field of TRAM 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 informed of any new developments in TRAM and to inform them of the SWG’s recommendations.

The most recent report by the SWG is attached to a communication to the Council and the European Parliament, and was adopted by the Commission on 8 April 1998. The report identifies several areas for priority actions that form the basis for the Commission’s activities in TRAM for the five years after 1998:

•Functioning of the single market and the need for harmonisation.

•Assessment of implementation of the regulations.

•Revision of transport regulations.

•Investigation of transport events.

•Transport emergency arrangements.

•Assistance to Candidates to EU and New Independent States.

•Information and Communication with the public.

A multiannual programme (1998-2002) entitled SURE was approved by the Council at the end of 1998. The aim was to promote certain safety aspects of nuclear installations in countries participating in the TACIS programme and to initiate training activities to support safeguards in those countries. The SURE programme enables priority action on TRAM proposed by the SWG is implemented and financed on the general budget of the European Communities.

With the reopening of the budget for the transport of radioactive material in the European Union, the Commission provided financing for 24 studies totalling ¤2.7 million for 1996 and 1997. A budget of ¤0.5 million per year has been made available from 1999 to 2002. Six studies were financed with the 1999 budget and these studies are in their final stages. The main studies for 1996, 1997 and 1999 are shown in the panels.

In order to follow-up the current implementation of the SURE programme, a new call for proposals on TRAM will be launched soon and will be published in the Official Journal of the European Communities.

Future harmonisation

Two factors that affect the acceptability of the nuclear sector are the transparency and safety of its activities. It is therefore important to create databases recording the number and characteristics of shipments of radioactive materials and possible events that could occur during TRAM.

These databases will contribute to safety improvements of shipments of RAM, and facilitate the application of harmonised emergency arrangements in case of possible events that could occur during these shipments.

A prerequisite for the creation of these databases is the harmonisation of documents and of the data contained in the accompanying transport certificates. This is also an essential factor especially for the completion of the Internal Market, as shipments of radioactive isotopes used in medicine, industry and research represent a large part of the sector.

The European Commission has initiated several actions to achieve this objective:

Format for notification

A proposal will be made to develop a common certificate for the notification of shipments required by the legislation in all Member States.

Shipment approval

A proposal will be made to develop a common certificate for shipment. This would develop the Internal Market since it would allow for automatic validation in the other Member States of the approval issued by the competent authority of the state of origin.

Events reporting

In order to create a European Database on transports of RAM in the EU, it is necessary to develop a format and guidelines for reporting events during transport.

Safety Report

A Safety Report with a unique format and a similar structure for all types of packages would facilitate the approval of packages in the various Member States.

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