Exposure of airplane passengers due to inadequate use of type B transport package

Print View Posted on: 29 July 2017

Event Date: 25 July 2017 Event Type: Transportation
Event Location: Belgium, NTP Europe INES Rating: 2 (Provisional)

On 25 July 2017 on arrival of a package containing a disused Ir-192 source of 29.6 GBq at the Belgian consignee an abnormal radiation level was detected (alarm of a personal dosimeter at 100 μSv/h triggered at about 1.50 m from the package).
The package was immediately shielded with a lead blanket and afterwards placed in a hot cell with sufficient shielding.
The package was shipped by air from Caïro to Zurich, and consequently from Zurich to Brussels.

The FANC (Belgian Regulatory Body) was notified by the Belgian consignee and went on-site for further investigation the next day.
Upon opening the package with adequate manipulators it was found that the source and sourceholder were not placed in the foreseen shielded channel inside the container.
Radiation levels that were measured are:
- 2.6 mSvh at 1 m from the package,
- 55 mSv/h at 5 cm from the source.

To estimate the potential dose to the passengers, conservative cargo hold and deck configurations were considered. The results show that up to 20 persons could have received a whole body dose exceeding the limit for public exposure (1 mSv) up to a maximum of 6.6 mSv for the flight from Cairo to Zurich and about 8 persons up to a maximum of 3.1 mSv for the flight from Zurich to Brussels.

Dose estimations for the handlers are still on-going

INES Rating: 2 - Incident (Provisional) as per 28 July 2017
Release beyond authorized limits? No
Overexposure of a member of the public? Yes
Overexposure of a worker? No

Contamination spread within the facility? No
Damage to radiological barriers (incl. fuel damage) within the facility? No

Degradation of Defence In-Depth No

Person injured physically or casualty? No
Is there a continuing problem? No

Simon Coenen
Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC)

Site Sponsors
Site Sponsors: IAEA, NEA and WANO
This site is hosted by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and co-sponsored by the Nuclear Energy Agency of the Organization of Economic Cooperation Development (OECD/NEA) and World Association of Nuclear Operators (WANO).
This site is hosted by the IAEA, however, event reports are filed and updated by authorities in participating countries, which remain responsible for all related content. Read more >