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Frequently asked questions

My company is considering transporting Class 7 Dangerous Goods (radioactive material). What do we need to do to ensure we are legally compliant?

In order to transport Class 7 Dangerous Goods (radioactive material) in Great Britain (GB), you must comply with the requirements of the Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (as amended) (CDG09) and the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17).

CDG09 Regulation 5 invokes the Agreement for the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR) and the Regulations for the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Rail (RID) into GB law, and places additional requirements on transport dutyholders relating to emergency arrangements and notification of transport events.

Examples of ADR and RID requirements include classification of radioactive material, package design, marking and labelling of packages and vehicles, provision of emergency equipment and emergency instructions on vehicles, training, security and management systems.

Examples of IRR17 requirements include notification or obtaining registration or consent from the ‘appropriate authority’ and the production of radiation risk assessments and contingency plans for transport operations.

Both CDG09 and IRR17 require transport dutyholders to consult, and where appropriate, appoint safety advisers (Dangerous Goods Safety Advisers (DGSAs) and Radiation Protection Advisers (RPAs)) to obtain advice on how to comply with CDG09, ADR, RID and IRR17.

Any company considering transporting radioactive material should seek the advice of a DGSA and an RPA, who is familiar with GB law, in order to obtain advice on what they must do before they begin to transport radioactive material. The following links may be useful: 

Additionally, the Society for Radiological Protection has produced a guidance leaflet for anyone considering transporting radioactive material.

Do I need an emergency plan?

The Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transport able Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (CDG09) requires within Regulation 24, Schedule 2 Part 1 paragraph 2 that dutyholders undertake a radiation risk assessment (RRA) in compliance with Regulation 8 of the Ionising Radiations Regulations 2017 (IRR17) as if it were an employer.

The RRA should clearly define whether or not a radiation emergency is possible, where it considers all possible accident situations. If the dutyholder's RRA concludes that a radiation emergency is possible, then an emergency plan is required in accordance with CDG09 Schedule 2 Part 1 paragraph 3.

ONR has produced detailed guidance covering:

  • transport radiation risk assessments, and
  • emergency planning and notification of events

Dutyholders are encouraged to review this guidance and consult with their RPA and DGSA as appropriate for further advice.

What are the Dangerous Goods Safety Adviser (DGSA) requirements in GB for overseas consignors and carriers?

ADR 1.8.3 requires a DGSA to be appointed for each undertaking, the activities of which include the carriage, or related packing, loading, filling or unloading, of dangerous goods by road. ONR has provided for exclusions to this requirement under ADR Information on this is contained within ONR's guidance on DGSAs.

ONR's Five Steps to Transport Emergency Planning clarifies that dutyholders based overseas and involved in the transport of Class 7 goods by road, rail or inland waterway in Great Britain (GB) have the same legal duties as GB based duty holders which cannot be devolved to others. To ensure compliance with GB specific legislation they should consult, and may need to appoint, suitable advisers (DGSAs and Radiation Protection Advisers (RPAs)). DGSAs/RPAs do not need to be from GB but must be suitably qualified and experienced to advise on GB transport legislation.

In addition, dutyholders based overseas may need to provide documentation both in the language of the driver and English to ensure there is no barrier to cooperation between the carrier, consignor, emergency services, local authorities and ONR in the event of a radiation emergency in GB. It may be appropriate for an overseas carrier or consignor to contract a GB provider to supply aspects of the emergency response and notify relevant bodies to ensure a timely response to transport emergencies.

Do orange plates need to have the hazard and UN numbers on?

ADR requirements for orange plates are in section 5.3.2 of ADR. The requirements to include the marking on the plate are defined in onwards, specifically: - requires the addition of the Hazard Identification Number (HIN) and UN number but only for tank-vehicles, battery vehicles or transport units carrying tanks. This does not normally apply to Class 7. - requires the addition of the HIN and UN number in the following cases:

  1. unpackaged solids;
  2. unpackaged articles, or;
  3. packaged radioactive material with a single UN number required to be carried under exclusive use.

These could apply to Class 7 carriers but don't in the majority of cases. In all other cases the Orange plate can be plain with no additional markings.

Note: CDG09 Schedule 1, part 1, Para 1 states that the "emergency action code" for the substance should be used instead of the HIN. This only applies within GB and not if the vehicle is moving internationally. Also note Derogation RO-a-UK-9 which allows the use of the fireproof plate in the cab instead of orange plates under certain conditions.

What are my responsibilities as a consignor who uses carriers who carry loads for other consignors?

Both consignors and carriers have duties under IRR17 and CDG09 to produce transport radiation risk assessments (RRAs) that make clear conclusions regarding whether a radiation emergency is possible and prepare appropriate emergency arrangements based upon this conclusion. Where consignors use carriers who carry packages for multiple consignors as part of the same load, consignors should ensure that they provide carriers with sufficient information to enable carriers to undertake their own transport RRAs for the loads they carry and prepare appropriate emergency arrangements.

As carriers will be carrying more radioactive material than individual consignors have consigned there may be instances where consignor's transport RRAs have concluded that a CDG09 emergency plan is not required but carriers have concluded that such a plan is required. Consignors and carriers must co-operate to ensure that in the event of an accident both appropriate radiation protection advice and support is provided at the scene of an accident and all relevant consignors duties are fulfilled by the appropriate consignor.

Note that IRR17 Regulation 16 and CDG09 Schedule 2 part 1 paragraph 3(8), require carriers and consignors to share information regarding contingency plans.

Returning a spent Mo99/Tc99m generator

A consignor is returning a spent Mo99/Tc99m generator. The carrier is arranged through the suppler of the generator. It is usual practice for a fresh generator to be delivered and swapped for a spent one which is collected for return transit. The carrier often has several packages on their vehicle with different consignors. If an incident occurs, which consignor's contingency or emergency plans should be enacted? Who does the responsibility lie with? Who is expected to respond, how, and when? The vehicle might be many miles away from the consignor when the incident takes place. Further to this, what can these consignors do if a carrier will not share their contingency/emergency plans?

The above question is already answered in the previous question.

Radionuclide therapies and domestic properties

Sometimes patients that have received radionuclide therapies (e.g. I-131 therapy) can generate radioactive waste at their home after the treatment. The most common scenario is soiled incontinence pads which might have activity greater than the exempt consignment limit (e.g. 1 MBq for I-131). In some cases, the patient does not have a safe and legal route for the disposal of this waste and may find it difficult to store the waste until it has decayed to below exempt consignment limits.

In this instance, the waste should be collected by hospital staff and transported back to the hospital where it can enter the appropriate waste stream.

Question: Is there guidance on what requirements must be met in these circumstances, e.g. is a licence to act as a waste company needed? Or can it simply be collected by a suitably trained driver with appropriate UN2910 packaging?

The issue of radioactive waste in a patient's home (and acceptance back to hospital site) may also need to be considered in conjunction with the Environment Agency (or equivalent).

Answer: If the waste is above exempt levels, it is required to be transported in full compliance with CDG09 (and ADR). Specifically, a transport RRA must be produced for such waste and appropriate contingency/emergency arrangements produced.

ONR guidance:

It should be noted ONR cannot provide guidance on the appropriate waste route as this is not within our vires.

Can a radioactive corpse be considered as 'radioactivity within a human' for transport exemptions?

There appears to be conflicting information on this. This situation will unfortunately become more common as more patients receive molecular radiotherapy.

Answer: ONR has consulted with other ADR (Agreement for the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road) signatory competent authorities and the general agreement is that “person” includes alive and dead. As such, ADR does not apply to dead bodies for transport. However, IRR17 would still apply and radiation safety advice should be given to anyone involved in the handling of a body. Note that this exemption does not apply to body parts/waste or cremated remains.

What are the requirements for the periodic inspection of Type A packages?

Manufacturer's guidance might limit users of packages to organisations that have been approved by the manufacture to perform this annual check.

  • Will ONR accept if users choose to override the manufacturer's guidance?
  • Can users implement their own system of checking e.g. within their own engineering department, and if so, is there any guidance (e.g. expected levels of competence or service accreditation)?

Many hospitals would like to implement local checks to save costs, rather than sending their packages away to an external company to perform the checks.

Cardboard Type A package

Hospitals are often supplied with a cardboard Type A package (for a Mo99/Tc99m generator) that arrives with minor damage (scuffs, minor crushing at the corners, non-penetrating tears, denting etc). They then re-use this package a few weeks later, as they consign the Type A package (spent generator) back to the supplier. Is there guidance on what minor damage to the package is acceptable for its continued use?

Contingency planning

Transporting radioactive material can require a contingency plan with trained people that can effectively respond anywhere, at any time. This can be difficult to implement without getting involved in a national scheme, which can be out of proportion to the small quantity and infrequency of the operation.

What response time are we expected to make if our vehicle is a long way from 'base'?

If we rarely transport, and don't carry large quantities, is it reasonable for our response plan to include remote assistance to the police, with our own staff attending site several (or many) hours later?

There is no expectation on a specific response time to the scene. ONR would expect the RPA to provide 'remote' advice immediately then appropriate RP personnel (which may be the RPA) to attend the scene (if required) in a reasonable timescale (not several hours).

Therefore, ONR would not expect emergency plans to rely on personnel attending the scene from great geographical distances. Paragraph 10.2 of ONR's transport emergency planning guidance states that it is ONR's expectation that the emergency plan, as a minimum, describes how to obtain specialist advice and support where damage to a package(s) is suspected. In addition, carriers and consignors should ensure that contingency and emergency plans are aligned so that it is clear which dutyholder has responsibility for which parts of plans. IRR17 Regulation 16 (contingency plans) and CDG09 Schedule 2 part 1 paragraph 3(8) (Emergency plans) refer.

Occasionally, radioactive blood samples or tissue samples need to be transported. There seems to be conflicting guidance (from different DGSAs) on the appropriate packaging/labelling and transport requirements in this situation.

Packaging should take account of all hazards – primary and subsidiary – ADR 1.7.5.

If radioactive material is the primary hazard then marking and labelling is discussed in ADR 3.3.1 Provision 172. Determination of primary hazard is detailed in ADR and ADR 3.3.1 Provision 290.

Does a waste contractor driver require Class 7 awareness training appropriate to their responsibilities when radioactivity is a subsidiary hazard to anther class e.g. Class 6.2 ?

If the waste is above exempt levels, it is required to be transported in full compliance with CDG09 (and ADR). This includes meeting the training requirements for transporting Class 7 dangerous goods.

Can ONR clarify the requirement for a radiation risk assessment covering Class 7 in case of an accident on a public road when radioactivity is a subsidiary hazard.

If consignments are above exempt levels, they are required to be transported in full compliance with CDG09 (and ADR) and IRR17. This includes the requirements for producing a transport RRA and appropriate contingency/emergency arrangements.

When radioactivity is a subsidiary hazard are incinerator/waste disposal sites that accept Class 7 subsidiary hazard consignments (at excepted package levels) required to appoint an RPA? 

ONR would suggest that an RPA be consulted in order to obtain advice about the specific need to appoint an RPA for such sites and that if appointment is not required, the basis for this is documented and revisited at appropriate intervals to make sure the conclusion remains valid.

Transporting small radioactive check sources

What would be considered appropriate steps for an RPA/RWA to take and appropriate security measures, if considering transporting small radioactive check sources (for checking contamination monitors, and possibly dose-rate meters) by road or rail, if the trip involves one or more overnight stay(s) in a hotel or private residence?

[These would usually be a few MBq at most, sealed sources, and generally transported as UN2910]

The requirements for security and the supervision of vehicles are detailed in ADR chapters 1.10, 8.4 and 8.5. Dutyholders should include the requirements for security and the supervision of vehicles within their transport RRAs.

What are the requirements for displaying orange coloured plates?

Orange coloured plate specification and attachment requirements are as follows:

  • Specification: ADR
    Size – 40x30cm – can be reduced to 300 x 120mm but only if space for that plate is insufficient to affix a full one. Insufficient is available surface area due to shape of vehicle – not “it covers up company logo”.
    Specification – reflectorized, weather-resistant and durable – specific orange colour.
  • Attachment: ADR
    Two plates, vertically mounted, front and rear of vehicle. Clearly visible.

    Shall not become detached either due to vehicle movement or engulfment in fire for 15 mins.
    Magnetic plates will generally fail on the attachment requirement. They also tend to be the wrong size. They are used because some dutyholders don't want to drill holes in the body of leased or rented vehicles to attach metal plates.

    An alternative could be to use something similar to the “Taxi licence plate holder”. These fix behind the registration plate and provide an alternative location to attach an orange plate. They would need to be metal in construction to meet the fire requirement.

What is ONR's interpretation of 'consumer products' that are exempt from ADR?

ADR - The provisions in ADR do not apply to any of the following:

(e) radioactive material in consumer products which have received regulatory approval (soon to be authorisation once SSR-6 changes) following their sale to the end user.

ONR considers consumer products in this instance to be products available to the public as the end user (for their personal or dometic use or for their sporting or leisure activities) without further control or restriction, provided measures have been taken to control any leakage of contents in normal conditions of carriage. They are sold directly in-store or online and are not intended for continued production or resale.

The General Product Safety Regulations 2005 (GPSR) requires all products to be safe in their normal or reasonably foreseeable usage. ONR considers products that meet the requirements of GSPR to have received regulatory approval.

ONR does not consider the exemption in ADR to apply to products which are sold (or resold) for purposes other than their original intended use or products that do not meet the requiments of GSPR.

Examples of items that ONR does not consider to be consumer products which have received received regulatory approval are: historic dials that contain radioactive coatings and markings, radioactive mineral samples, re-purposed industrial equipment containing radioactive materials.

What retention period is required for training records?

ADR 1.3.3 - Records of training according to this Chapter shall be kept by the employer and made available to the employee or competent authority, upon request. Records shall be kept for a period of time established by the competent authority. Records of training shall be verified upon commencing a new employment.

ONR expectations are that:

  • employers provide initial training and provide refresher training at suitable frequencies.
  • Individuals are expected to always be up-to-date with their training.
  • employers keep records of training during the specified period of validity of the training. Once the validity period has passed records are no longer required to be kept.

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