ASN Report 2022

TRANSPORT OF RADIOACTIVE SUBSTANCES The Transport of Radioactive Substances (TSR) involves numerous players, the carriers of course, but also the consignors, the package designers and manufacturers, etc. The vast majority of shipments is linked to the needs of the non-nuclear industry, the medical sector or research. ASN considers that in 2022, the safety of TSR is on the whole satisfactory, as in previous years. Although a few transport operations – mainly by road – did suffer incidents, these must be put into perspective with the 770,000 transport operations carried out each year. The number of significant TSR events on the public highway (88 events reported to ASN in 2022) is slightly up on 2021, with an increase in the number of events rated level 1 on the INES scale. The number of events concerning transports of radiopharmaceutical products also rose appreciably. The events mainly comprise: ∙ material non-conformities affecting a package (notably damaged packaging) or its stowage on the conveyance, thereby weakening the strength of the package (whether or not an accident occurs). These cases do not concern transports of spent fuels or highly radioactive waste and primarily concern transports for small-scale nuclear activities; ∙ exceeding of the limits set by the regulations, usually by a small amount, for the dose rates or contamination of a package; ∙ errors or omissions in package labelling, mainly for transports concerning small-scale nuclear activities; ∙ delivery errors concerning radiopharmaceutical products. As these products are often similar from one hospital unit to another, most of them could be used for patient treatment without any impact. The inspections carried out by ASN also frequently identify such deviations. The consignors and carriers must therefore demonstrate greater rigorousness in day-to-day operations. With regard to transports for basic nuclear installations and research facilities, ASN finds that the licensees carry out numerous checks and are therefore better able to detect any deviations. It considers that the consignors must further improve how they demonstrate that the contents actually loaded into the packaging comply with the specifications of the package model approval certificates and the corresponding safety files. In addition, if this demonstration is performed by a third-party company, it is up to the consignor to check that it is appropriate and to monitor the third-party company via the usual methods of a quality assurance system, which is not always the case. With respect to transports concerning small-scale nuclear activities, the ASN inspections confirm significant disparities from one carrier to another. The deviations most frequently identified concern the content and actual implementation of the worker radiation protection programme, the quality management system, and actual compliance with the procedures put into place. The checks to be carried out prior to shipment of a package must therefore be improved. For example, the inspections concerning the transport of gamma ray projectors regularly reveal inappropriate stowage or tie-down. At a time when the uses of radionuclides in the medical sector are generating a high volume of transport traffic, progress is still needed regarding familiarity with the regulations applicable to these transport operations and the arrangements made by certain hospitals or nuclear medicine centres for the shipment and reception of packages. The quality management systems have not yet been formally set out and deployed, more specifically with regard to the responsibilities of each member of staff involved. ASN considers that the radiation protection of carriers of radiopharmaceutical products, who are significantly more exposed than the average worker, needs to be improved. Finally, for transport operations involving packages that do not require ASN approval, progress continues to be observed with respect to the previous years, along with better application of the recommendations given in ASN Guide No. 7 (volume 3). The improvements still to be made generally concern the description of the authorised contents per type of packaging, the demonstration that there is no loss or dispersion of the radioactive content under normal transport conditions, and that is impossible to exceed the applicable dose rate limits with the maximum authorised content. ABSTRACTS – ASN Report on the state of nuclear safety and radiation protection in France in 2022 29 ASN Assessments