Alex Salmond has said regulations for the movement of nuclear waste should be devolved to the Scottish Parliament.
He said it would enable the Scottish Government and other authorities to deal more effectively with incidents such as the ship carrying radioactive waste that caught fire and lost power in the Moray Firth on Tuesday during stormy conditions.
Speaking at first minister’s question time at Holyrood yesterday, Mr Salmond said the UK Office of Nuclear Regulation had not informed the Scottish authorities that a ship bound for Belgium would be transporting Dounreay radioactive waste.
Mr Salmond said the public should be assured that no material was leaked into the sea by the Danish-owned MV Parida but it was concerning that the incident led to 52 workers being evacuated from the Beatrice oil platform as a precaution.
One of the ship’s funnels caught fire, leaving the ship, carrying six 500-litre (110 gallons) drums of waste encased in cement, drifting helplessly.
The fire was extinguished quickly, but the ship was unable to restart its engines and was towed to the mouth of the Cromarty Firth on Wednesday to undergo repairs and an inspection
Mr Salmond said: “The concerns that this incident raises are obvious.
“It was Scottish Government authorities who had to co-ordinate to make sure this incident was safely insured.
“But unfortunately the Office of Nuclear Regulation had not had sufficient consultation with those authorities before the incident took place.
“It is significantly unsatisfactory to find that boats carrying consignments of nuclear waste have to wait for a weather window in October in the North Sea in order to carry forward their trip.”
Mr Salmond said it was also concerning to learn that what was a “minor incident” for the ship resulted in it drifting towards an oil platform.
“This whole chamber should unite in looking for the devolution of the relevant authority to make sure that Scotland not only has the power to handle these incidents, but to make sure, as far as possible, they don’t occur in the first place.”
Caithness, Sutherland and Ross MSP Rob Gibson, who raised the issue with the first minister, claimed devolving responsibility for such matters to Holyrood would ensure people who live on coastlines were “better protected”.