Transport of radioactive substances
Transport of radioactive substances
Radioactive substances constitute class 7 in the legislation governing the transportation of dangerous goods. The transport of a radioactive substance is also considered use of radiation under the Radiation Act, but in the Act it has been exempted from a safety licence.
The Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority monitors the transports of radioactive substances mainly by virtue of the legislation governing the transportation of dangerous goods. STUK inspects transport arrangements and approves transport packages and transports by means of special arrangements, among other things.
Transport comprises all operations included in or related to the transport of radioactive substances. These include
- the design, manufacture, maintenance and repair of the packaging;
- the preparation, consignment, loading and transport of loads and packages that contain radioactive substances;
- temporary interruptions of transit due to transport conditions; and
- the unloading and reception at the destination.
STUK has published the guide Radioaktiivisten aineiden kuljetus (Transport of radioactive substances, 2012). The guide gives the basic information on the transport requirements from the points of view of the different parties involved in the transports.
In the transport of radioactive substances, there are also obligations related to security arrangements.
These have been explained in the guide Turvajärjestelyt radioaktiivisten aineiden tiekuljetuksissa (Security arrangements in the road transport of radioactive substances, 2015).
Both guides have been written from the point of view of road transport. However, the basic principles also apply to other methods of transport (sea, air).
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has published several guides on transport regulations. They are available in English on the IAEA website.
Training and qualifications in transport
The transport of dangerous goods has a training obligation of the employer which applies to all parties involved in the transport of radioactive substances. All persons involved in the transport must have undergone training that ensures safety or other qualification for the task and supplementary training that is repeated at appropriate intervals unless the task is performed under the direct supervision of a trained person.
Furthermore, under the Radiation Act the responsible party must organize, in line with the nature and scope of operations, systematic training of persons involved in the use of radiation sources. In practice, the training should be proportionate to the person’s duties and responsibilities as well as the amount of radioactive substances transported. The employer must keep the training information for three years from the completion of the most recent approved training.
Qualifications related to transport
For transport by road, radioactive substances drivers must generally have an ADR licence which covers radioactive substances. More information on the licence is available from the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency (Traficom).
Where radioactive substances are concerned, in certain cases the ADR licence may be substituted with so-called awareness training. However, drivers must receive appropriate and sufficient training in line with their duties on the requirements governing the transport of radioactive substances. The training must provide them with adequate information about the radiation risks related to the transport of radioactive substances. This type of awareness training must be validated by a certificate from the employer.
If the consignment is prepared for carriage by air, the packer and consignor must have a special qualification for the transport of dangerous goods by air. More information about this training is available from the Traficom.
Radiation protection programme
The responsible party must have in place a radiation protection programme whereby the radiation safety of employees and members of the public is ensured. The scope and level of detail of the radiation protection programme depends on the scope of the transport activities. The objective of the radiation protection programme is:
1. to ensure that due consideration is given to radiation protection;
2. to ensure that radiation protection is practiced regularly;
3. to improve the safety culture; and
4. to provide the practical methods for the abovementioned issues.
The radiation protection programme may be part of the management system, for example.
Typically, the radiation protection programme consists of the following sections:
1. Scope of application at the company
2. Roles and the division of responsibilities at the company
3. Dose resulting from work
4. Applicable dose constraints / dose optimization
5. Measurement of surface contamination
6. Separation of packages in temporary storage, for example
7. Emergency instructions
9. Quality assurance
It is usually not necessary to address all the matters mentioned above if the radiation doses of employees caused by transport activities are low. It is the responsibility of the company to estimate the dose. If necessary, the company must be able to justify the estimate to the supervising authority, such as STUK. Additional information about estimating the dose may be inquired from the safety adviser of the company or from STUK.
The elements to be included in the radiation protection programme are presented in the table below, based on the dose caused to employees.
|Section||The employee’s annual radiation dose resulting from work|
|Under 1 mSv||1-6 mSv||Over 6 mSv|
|Scope of application||Obligatory||Obligatory||Obligatory|
|Roles and the division of responsibilities at the company||Obligatory||Obligatory||Obligatory|
|Dose resulting from work||Dose estimation not necessary||Monitoring of working conditions or individual monitoring||Individual monitoring|
|Applicable dose constraints / dose optimization||Only simple dose optimization, such as working practices||Obligatory||Obligatory|
|Measurement of surface contamination||To be considered||To be considered||To be considered|
Separation of packages in temporary storage, for example
|Applicable only if I-II or III Yellow packages are transported||Applicable only if I-II or III Yellow packages are transported||Applicable only if I-II or III Yellow packages are transported|
Even if a section is marked 'obligatory' in the table, the scope of how the section is addressed depends on the transport activities of the company. It may be discussed very briefly. However, the company must be able to justify the matter to the supervising authority.
The IAEA guide TS-G-1.3 Radiation Protection Programmes for the Transport of Radioactive Material may be used as an aid in drawing up the radiation protection programme.
The parties involved in the transport must have in place a management system, adherence to which ensures, for example, that the training of the personnel is up-to-date and that the preparations and packaging used comply with all requirements. The management system must cover all activities related to transport, where applicable.
The management system must be based on requirements approved by STUK. The scope and level of detail of the management system depends on the scope of the transport activities. Typically it is sufficient that an ISO quality standard suited to the purpose is used in the drawing up of the management system. Typically the management system is certified.
The management system must be made available to STUK upon request.
The IAEA guide TS-G-1.3 The Management System for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material, for example, may be used in the drawing up of the management system. The guide is very extensive and is not necessary suitable for the responsible party as such. Applicable parts may be taken from the guide, however.
All parties who regularly engage in the transport of dangerous goods must designate a safety adviser to monitor and guide the transport activities and to explore ways that allow the tasks related to the transport of dangerous goods to be carried out as safely as possible.¬ The responsibilities of the safety adviser include giving advice and monitoring compliance with regulations at the company, among other matters.
The safety adviser must pass a special test, which is received by the Finnish Transport and Communications Agency Traficom.