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1 October 2010

IAEA Programme on Transportation of Radioactive Materials

Concern over the problem of ‘denial of shipment of’ cobalt 60 was first addressed by the IAEA at its General Conference in 2004, then in November 2006 the first meeting of the International Steering Committee on Denials of Shipment was convened under the auspices of the IAEA. Presentations from the IAEA, WNTI (World Nuclear Transport Institute) and IATA (International Air Transport Association) outlined the background to the problems and proposed an action plan.

A series of regional workshops followed; the first in Uruguay in 2007 followed by others in Madagascar, Tanzania, China and Italy in 2008, with the most recent workshop in Luxembourg in June 2009. All of these workshops have followed the pattern of highlighting the problems caused by denials of shipments of isotopes and then developing the beginnings of a local action plan.

The International Steering Committee (ISC) met at the IAEA in Vienna in February 2010.  Below is a summary of key results.

  • IAEA has set a target of 2013 to reduce delays and denials to an insignificant level.
  • IAEA Board of Governors has the needs of ISC on its agenda.
  • IAEA developing a Denials Secretariat with IMO and ICAO.
  • Roles & responsibilities of National Focal Points (approximately 70 designated) and Regional Coordinators (5 regions globally) developed & agreed.
  • Agreed on integration needs and opportunities between NFP and RC.
  • Database of denials or delays incidents now well established with approximately 200 reports now in database.

iiA has relied on ISSPA to represent its members and to be its interface in negotiations and discussions in the activities being undertaken to reduce and eventually eliminate the problems encountered in the international movement of cobalt 60. It has had a leading role in the activities of the IAEA sponsored International Steering Committee and indeed Paul Gray (Nordion) continues as the ISC chairman. There is close liaison between the two organizations with Grant Malkoske acting as the conduit.

The database referred to above is a confidential record of the instances of denial or delay and routing problems of sources as reported to the IAEA. We believe presently some 40% or higher of the entries relate to issues associated with the shipment of cobalt 60! In order to ensure that these problems continue to be recognized and achieve a ‘high visibility’ it is valuable to ensure that any problems (new or reoccurring) that companies encounter are logged into this database. To make a submission the report should reference the iiA since it is an organization recognized by IAEA (not individual companies).

Of key interest to iiA members is an understanding of the key elements of the programme as it exists today and the way in which it might be made to work for members experiencing transport problems. Under John Woolston’ leadership the iiA is developing simple and inexpensive programme of “bottom up” activity to support the IAEA initiative.

More information will be forthcoming the members-only section of the website.