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Posted on : Mar 25, 2009
Following recent discoveries of radioactive sources in scrap imports, the Indian Director General of Foreign Trade (DGFT) has issued a new notification that makes Pre-shipment Inspection (PSI) mandatory for all shipments of shredded scrap. This concerns bills of lading dated form 23.03.2009 onwards.

Up to now, shredded metal was out of the ambit. But more incidences of metals having ‘high radiation levels’ in recent months, and the need for tighter security, has prompted the government to come out with such a notification, according to industry experts.

‘The notification that a pre-shipment certificate is mandatory for imports of shredded metal scrap is effective immediately,’ says Rohit Shah, director of industry body, Bombay Metal Exchange. He adds that any company that does not comply with the notification would be penalised. The cost involved in getting the goods assayed amounts to about US$30 a container approximately. While this is not a huge additional cost, it would definitely be more time consuming for the importer, Mr Shah says.

The assaying agencies have already been specified in an earlier circular that had made mandatory pre-shipment inspection for heavy melting scrap, which includes things like broken car parts. In shredded metals, majority of the scrap is of ferrous metals. In total, India imports about 3 million tonne of ferrous scrap annually.

Zain Nathani, director of Nathani Industrial Services that imports substantial amounts of iron scrap comments: ‘Recent security concerns and a number of incidents where materials were found to be radioactive have prompted this notification.’ In the case of shredded metals, the likelihood of having ammunition in the material imported is next to zero. But there have been instances where scrap metal was found to be radioactive, Mr Nathani says.

In October 2008, there was a case of radioactive scrap metal having found its way into elevator buttons installed in lifts in France that was traced back to a western Indian foundry. Reports had stated that at least four Indian firms were involved in the manufacture of the components, but it was unclear where the contaminated scrap originated. French firm, Mafelec, had delivered thousands of these lift buttons to the local division of American elevator company, Otis, which then had to call back its production.
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