Transporting radioactive material safely

How often do transport accidents involving radiation occur in Ireland?

Every year around 5000 packages containing radioactive material are transported within Ireland. Transport accidents involving radioactive material are rare.

The most serious incidents in the past have included:

  • A minor road traffic accident involving a vehicle transporting a low activity radiation source. There was no damage either to the radiation source or its container
  • The theft of a licensee’s van in Dublin, which contained an X-ray generator tube. The van and X-ray unit were subsequently recovered
  • The partial crushing of a package containing a radiation source being shipped through Dublin Airport. Although the outer package was damaged, the source container remained intact

None of these events led to any member of the public being exposed to radiation.

While there have been a number of incidents in which packages have been dropped, or the outer packaging damaged, there has not been a single recorded case in Ireland of a hazardous radiation release during transportation.

What would be the consequences of a transport accident involving radiation?

Within the EU there are several million packages transported annually, containing radioactive material for use in medicine, research and industry. Over the past 50 years or so a very good safety record has been achieved.  No transport accidents or incidents have been reported which resulted in severe radiation health effects to members of the public.