UKRAINE does not like having its trains checked with x-rays at border crossings when entering Slovakia’s territory and is threatening to halt cargo rail transport into Slovakia. It claims that the x-ray procedure is harming Ukrainian locomotive engineers. Slovakia disputes the accusations and says measurements by the Slovak Public Health Office show there is no possibility of harmful levels of radiation, the public broadcaster Slovak Television (STV) reported on July 13.
Slovak customs officers at Slovakia’s border with Ukraine use an x-ray scanning facility able to uncover any illegal goods within incoming trains.
“Except the engine, it scans railcars and goods in them,” Vojtech Jakab, the spokesperson of Slovakia’s Customs Directorate told STV. “Afterwards, colleagues evaluate whether the railcars contain the declared goods or whether there is something different.”
The Ukrainian railway company maintains that the scanning facility has made its locomotive engineers ill. According to Igor Matviin, the spokesperson for the Ukrainian railway company, the engineers were complaining about problems after going through the scanning facility.
The Slovak side disputes any violation of health regulations.
“Use of the scanner in Maťovce was permitted in accordance with valid Slovak regulations for radiation protection,” Lenka Šrámková, the spokesperson for Slovakia’s Public Health Office wrote in a statement provided to the Czech Hospodářské Noviny.
The scanner is under the permanent supervision of the state health authority. It has not found that the scanning has caused engineers or any other workers to have been exposed to harmful radiation.
“The state health authority concluded that parameters, as well as repeated tests and measuring of this facility, show that the operation of the scanner is stable, without relevant flaws and does not present any excessive risk of radiation exposure for workers controlling the facility, locomotive engineers and even persons illegally travelling in a railcar undergoing the check,” reads the Public Health Office’s statement.
The facility at the railway border crossing in Maťovce has been in operation since 2006 and the Ukrainian railway company had not raised any complaints previously, Jakab told The Slovak Spectator.
On July 16, representatives of the Slovak and Ukrainian ministries of transport and finance discussed the issue, but at the time The Slovak Spectator went to print results of the talks were not known. Cargo transport between Ukraine and Slovakia has not been interrupted to date.
20. Jul 2009 at 0:00 | Jana Liptáková