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Emergency / contingency plans

What is an emergency?

A ‘transport radiation emergency' means an unexpected situation arising during the transporting of radioactive material. Such situations require urgent action to protect workers or members of the public from radiation exposure or risks to their health and safety as a result of the situation or the perceived risks from that situation. A radiation emergency may involve a loss of radiation shielding, release of all or part of the radioactive contents of a package or an uncontrolled criticality.

Events are not considered to be radiation emergencies where the estimated effective radiation doses are at or below 1 mSv to any individual over a period of one year following an emergency. This is because serious consequences do not occur below 1 mSv in most cases.

Emergency plans

The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (CDG09) require carriers and consignors to undertake a risk assessment to determine if they need to prepare and implement emergency plans. Consignees, drivers and vessel masters with a role in the emergency plan also have specific duties placed on them by CDG09.

CDG09 requires emergency plans to be tested every 3 years and the findings reported to ONR. ONR's expectation is that tests should be carried out approximately annually although there is no requirement to report these interim tests to ONR.

Emergency plans must include procedures for assessing emergencies, if they occur, and then preparing a formal assessment report that must be retained for 50 years.

Notifiable events

CDG09 places duties on carriers and consignors for ‘Notifiable Events'. These are situations where a notification must be made to report the loss or theft of Class 7 goods being carried.

Contingency plans

Whether an emergency plan under CDG09 is required or not, the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17) require ‘contingency plans' to be made whenever a radiation accident is reasonably foreseeable, i.e. the 1 mSv threshold does not affect the requirement to have contingency plans under IRR17.

ONR has published guidance on transport emergency planning. Further information is available on our guidance and resources page.

Further information on how to notify ONR of transport incidents is available on our Notify ONR page.