A Chilean Congressman following on reports from Greenpeace warned this week about the transportation of radioactive materials belonging to a dismantled California nuclear reactor, along the Chilean and Argentine coasts.
According to Deputy Alejandro Navarro from the Chilean ruling coalition and a member of the Congressional Environment Committee, the long detour plan contemplates three contingency ports for emergencies in Chile: Valparaíso, Puerto Montt and Punta Arenas, and two in Argentina, Ushuaia and Puerto Madryn.
"The dismantled radioactive pieces from the Southern California Edison Co. San Onofre Nuclear Generation Station are to be transported 20,000 kilometres by sea to an Eastern coast nuclear dump in Barnwell, South Carolina crossing Cape Horn. Apparently the US Department of Transport authorized the operation last December", said Mr. Navarro.
"The operators of the cargo have told US authorities that in case of bad weather or mishap they would be calling in any of those contingency ports. However, as far as we know they have not contacted the Chilean or Argentine governments on the matter".
Furthermore apparently there are no plans to recover the radioactive material if the cargo vessel sinks deeper than 91 metres.
Originally the plan was to transport the 700 tons of radioactive materials by rail from California to Texas and then by sea to South Carolina.
However the rail companies rejected the proposal given the risks and delays involved in the operation.
"The transportation of such material in Chilean waters requires previous consultation and authorization, so we will be meeting with Ministers of Defence and Foreign Affairs to find out what are the Chilean government maritime and diplomatic contingencies if the California company effectively goes ahead with its plan", concluded Mr. Navarro.