Keeping Radioactive Materials Transport Safe and Secure

When shippers and ports refuse to move vital radioactive materials to hospitals and industry, suppliers must find new routes. Each year, fewer of these routes are available. Some regions do not receive the radioactive materials that save lives and help produce modern materials.

Some people hear "radioactive materials transport" and immediately become petrified. The facts simply don't support that fear. And, moving these products is essential and necessary for public health, manufacturing, science and engineering.

For the past 50 years, the IAEA has worked alongside the transport industry to ensure that these materials are moved safely; but also that they are allowed to move quickly, since many of these materials, especially those used in health care, become less and less effective as time passes. The delays faced during the transport of these life-saving radiopharmaceuticals in particular can have deleterious effects for hundreds of thousands of patients worldwide.

Safety Standards

The IAEA crafted the first safety standards for the transport of radioactive materials half a century ago, and since then the industry has had an enviable safety record. The IAEA has continued to update and revise these standards over the years.

This week, the Agency is hosting the International Conference on the Safe and Secure Transport of Radioactive Materials, which provides the ideal opportunity to review the situation relating to transportation of dangerous materials worldwide. The strengths and weaknesses of the current regime will be evaluated. And areas for improvement will be identified.

This international forum will also provide ideas on the directions that the IAEA's work on safety and security in transport could take in the decade to 2021 and beyond.

Currently, many countries are developing a national regulatory framework, which is essential to ensure and facilitate safe and secure transportation of dangerous materials.

Last update: 10 September 2014