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Safety of the transport of radioactive materials for civilian use in France: IRSN publishes the English edition of its analysis of significant events reported in 2012 and 2013

Updated on 30/06/2015

Download the infographic "Safety of the transport of radioactive materials for civilian use in France: analysis of significant events reported in 2012 and 2013" (pdf)


Every two years since 2008, IRSN has published in a report the lessons learnt from its analysis of significant events involving the transport of radioactive materials for civilian purposes in France. Each year in France, some 770,000 shipments of radioactive materials for civilian use are done by road, railway, inland waterway, sea and air. 

Infographics : Radiation Protection at Nuclear Power Plants in France in 2013 

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For 2012 and 2013, the report did not find evidence of degradation compared with previous years, particularly for industrial activities in the nuclear power industry, which raise the most significant safety issues. Since 1999, approximately a hundred events are reported each year, which represents, on average, one event per 10,000 packages transported.


Download the report “Safety of the Transport of Radioactive Materials for Civilian Use in France. Lessons learned by IRSN from analysis of significant events reported in 2012 and 2013"  (PDF, 4,67 Mo)


IRSN notes that none of the events that occurred over the two years had an impact on public health or environmental protection.

Events involving a defect in the closure of spent fuel shipping packages and deviations concerning the content of the packages, which had increased in 2010 and 2011, are now down. It would seem to confirm that the organizational measures implemented by those sending the packages have had a positive impact. 

Previous trends which brought to light failures in the preparation of packages and their handling, in particular in the medical sector, have been confirmed. Even if most of the packages concerned contain low levels of radioactivity, recurrence of these events confirms the value of implementing appropriate preventive actions on the part of the companies involved.

Lastly, descriptions of several typical events that occurred in 2012 and 2013 provide illustrations of the analyses that were performed on actual cases.

In accordance with the missions of the IRSN, this report was developed based on an independent scientific and technical expertise. It is intended to contribute to a better understanding by the stakeholders and the public of the practical issues of safety and radiation protection, as well as the progress made in terms of safety and of shortcomings identified.




Number of significant events: what is the real significance of this indicator?

Operators of regulated nuclear facilities must report all significant events to ASN, the French Nuclear Safety Authority, within 48 hours of detection. For IRSN, the number of significant events does not itself serve as a quantifying measure of good operating practices, and variations in this number cannot be directly associated with a variation in safety level or in radiation protection. Significant events are, however, indicative of issues that need to be analyzed and understood with a view to identifying relevant strategies for improving plant safety and radiation protection during operation.


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