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Globalisation of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Maritime Carriage of Radioactive Materials: Review of the Legal Regime

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The international community and important nuclear stakeholders are making efforts to promote the further globalisation of the nuclear fuel cycle. Consequently, marine shipments of radioactive materials are ever increasing. The history of maritime carriage of these substances has been characterised by disagreements between the various stakeholders with regard to, i.e., concepts such as innocent passage as included in the 1982 UN Convention on the Law of the Sea and implementation and interpretation of the precautionary principle. The international framework governing these shipments is flawed due to its inconsistency and fragmentation, thereby passively allowing coastal nations to take unilateral action, such as blocking the shipments from their Exclusive Economic Zones and territorial waters. On the European level, modern environmental law principles are being put forward more progressively, but are not incorporated into a consistent and clear legal regime in this particular context. Overall, there are many feasible improvements, both in the short- and the long term.

Affiliations: 1: Lydian Lawyers Brussels Belgium


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