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2.9.6 Off-site road transport

Contents Radioactive material movements Nuclear materials Radioactive material movements

The transport of radioactive materials by road is subject to legislation relating both to radioactive content and to any chemical or physical hazards [ADR]. The legislation regarding radioactive material movements requires understanding of radiation protection issues. Specialist advice from a radiation protection adviser should be sought to ensure that all transfers of radioactive materials are in accordance with this legislation.

Transport regulations apply also to off-site transport by air, sea and rail and to shipment across international frontiers. However, these are of less relevance to contaminated land investigations, and are not discussed further in this guidance.

In the context of a site investigation, these regulations may be relevant to the movement of solid and liquid samples to a testing laboratory or archive and to the movement of waste to a disposal facility.

The consignor, who is responsible for transporting the radioactive material, in addition to the general duty to exercise reasonable care, must ensure that:

  • If this is the first shipment using a specific type of package that the relevant authorizations have been obtained from the competent authority;
  • The correct package type is used for the radioactive material (the total activity, external dose rate and surface contamination levels are appropriate to the package type);
  • The package is correctly labelled;
  • The package is transported in accordance with the legislation;
  • The documentation complies with all the relevant legislation and relevant information is provided to the carrier;
  • The consignor maintains a quality assurance programme;
  • The consignee, who receives the radioactive material, is authorised to accept the radioactive material (i.e., it is a nuclear-licensed site or they have an authorisation to accumulate and dispose of radioactive material);
  • The emergency arrangements are in place. Nuclear materials

One of the requirements is to have implemented a system of accountancy and control of all nuclear materials subject to the legislation.

As an example: Member states of the European Community has to fulfil to the EURATOM safeguards. The EURATOM safeguards apply to the civilian use of radioactive materials in the member states. Herein stands that “Nuclear materials” refers to any ore, source or special fissile material as defined in Part VI of the Commission Regulation (EURATOM) No 3227/76, 1976. For organisations handling only small quantities of these materials (such as potentially could be produced from a contaminated land investigation), only special fissile materials (239Pu and uranium enriched in 235U or 233U) are subject to the legislation. Further, plutonium with an isotopic concentration of 238Pu in excess of 80% by activity is exempted.

It is possible that samples produced from the investigation of a site contaminated with fissile radionuclides may require registration under the nuclear materials accountancy system (see above). It is not clear whether there is any “de-minimis” level below which the samples can be exempted from this system. Advice on the storage and transport of such material should be sought from the site operator who in turn will take advice from the regulator.