Radioactive material transportation incident rated as level 2 on the INES-scale : update
On Tuesday 25 July 2017, the enterprise NTP Radioisotopes (Europe) S.A. received a package containing a used radioactive source. The package originally came from Egypt and was transferred via Zürich to the airport of Zaventem. Between the 13th and the 25th of July, the package has been temporarily stored at the airport of Zaventem, in a specific storage room for radioactive materials.
When the package was received and checked, the dosimeter of the NTP employee assigned to this task detected an abnormally high radiation level in the vicinity of the package. The radiation level exceeded the limits stipulated in the regulations for the safe transport of nuclear material.
>> Read the press release of 28 July
The Swiss Safety Regulator – the Federal Office of Public Health (FOPH) within the Federal Department of Home Affairs (FDHA) - obtained from the airline company the passenger list for both flights Cairo-Zürich and Zürich-Brussels. Depending on the nationality of the passengers, the FOPH warned the relevant national authorities.
A Belgian passenger was involved in this incident. The Belgian Federal Public Service of Public Health - in cooperation with the FANC - took contact with this passenger to inform him that he had potentially been exposed to a radiation dose during this flight and that this exposure had no significant health effects. It has also been communicated to this passenger that he does not need to take any particular action.
Moreover, further investigation revealed that every person, other than the passengers, that had been in the vicinity of the package, among whom ground handlers at the involved European airports or the truck driver of the Belgian road carrier, had not been exposed to doses causing health effects. Those doses remained significantly below the dose limit for members of the public, i.e. 1 mSv/year.
However, the FANC could not collect any information about the activities that took place on Egyptian soil or about the potential doses which the consignor's staff and ground handlers at Cairo airport could have been exposed to. This falls under the responsibility of the Egyptian Safety Authority, to which the FANC reported any relevant information about this incident.
The FANC confirms the rating of this incident at INES Level 2. The INES scale (International Nuclear Event Scale) is a tool for promptly and consistently communicating to the public the safety significance of events associated with sources of ionizing radiation. There are seven levels on the INES scale ranging from Level 1 (anomaly) to Level 7 (major accident).
9 Août 2017