• English
  • العربية
  • 中文
  • Français
  • Русский
  • Español

You are here

IAEA and ICAO to enhance cooperation on transport of vital radioactive materials

Vienna, Austria

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have agreed to enhance their cooperation around the transport of radioactive materials by air, notably to improve the efficiency and speed of these shipments that are vital for cancer care and other medical uses around the world.

In a joint statement signed today, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar and underscored that the agreement also “highlights the importance of adherence to the IAEA safety standards for the safe use of radioactive materials and to ICAO standards for global civil aviation safety and security.”

The agreement builds on the cooperation between both UN bodies on matters of common interest that began in 1960.

Nuclear medicine is based on access to radiopharmaceuticals for a variety of diagnostic uses and specific therapies. Getting radiopharmaceuticals from the manufacturer to hospitals and medical clinics depends on fast and reliable transport, including by air. Over 10,000 hospitals worldwide use radioisotopes in medicine, mostly for diagnosis.

“The IAEA’s role in ensuring the safe transport of radioactive material by air is essential in the carriage of short-lived radiopharmaceuticals and other crucial radioactive materials,” remarked ICAO Secretary General Salazar. “ICAO welcomes the heightening of our collaboration in this vitally important area of mutual interest.”

IAEA Director General Grossi said: “It is very important that the work the IAEA and ICAO undertake in developing and strengthening the implementation of international standards is complementary. The IAEA greatly values ICAO’s long-standing contribution to the development and review of IAEA safety standards. We can work even more closely together in other areas of common interest, such as in reducing denials of, and delays in, shipment of radioactive material by air.”  

The agreement encompasses the development and review of relevant IAEA safety standards and the harmonization of best practices globally, with the IAEA and ICAO collaborating to collect and analyse associated information.

Raising stakeholder awareness through education, training, and outreach are also foreseen, including around emergency preparedness.

Radiation research and information exchange towards radiation protection in civil aviation, especially regarding cosmic radiation exposure to flight crews, is a further focus of the agreement.

Today’s joint statement highlights that the “stronger mutual cooperation will create a conducive environment for countries to harness the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals,” and helps set the stage for deeper collaboration in the near future.

Stay in touch