Rotterdam to radiation-screen boxes

February, 12 2004

From mid-March, half of all containers entering or leaving Rotterdam's ECT Delta terminal by truck will be screened for nuclear radiation, a move aimed at intercepting material for dirty bombs. Four drive-through gates have been fitted with eight detectors, on loan from the US Department of Energy, with potential annual capacity up to 1.5m containers. Tests started this week. Dutch state secretary of finance Joop Wijn said Holland would issue a European tender for dozen of such detectors by this summer, with the construction order due by the end of 2004. Detectors will be installed throughout the Port of Rotterdam in the next two to three years. Twenty-one officers have been trained and certified as radiation inspectors, confirmed a Rotterdam customs department spokeswoman. The detectors can distinguish the intensity and type of radiation, which will mean minimum disruption, she said, pointing out: 'Radiation could be entirely consistent with the cargo's nature and match the manifest data. Only if it doesn't will the container will be set aside for further inspection, first with handheld detectors'. Rotterdam is the second non-US port to install detectors, sid Wijn. St Petersburg's First Container Terminal was the first

Harry de Wilt