Delays and denials of shipments involving regulated radioactive materials used in medicine and industry are of growing concern to safety and industry experts. Meeting in Rome this week at an IAEA workshop, they agreed on an action plan for the Mediterranean region that seeks to ease hardships for hospitals, research centres and organizations that rely on timely delivery of beneficial radiation sources.
The shipment issues have surfaced over the past several years, with international dimensions. Data reported to the IAEA over a recent six-month period indicate more delays than denials are taking place. Denials block shipments entirely, and delays can virtually render a radioisotope useless because of its short radioactive half-life.
Between September 2007 and March 2008, a total of 69 reports of delays and denials of shipments (42 delays, 19 denials and 8 unspecified) were reported to the IAEA. Of these, 46 reports concerned air transport, while the remaining 23 cases concerned sea, rail and road transport modes. In terms of the most common types of radioactive sources involved, 23 reports concerned iodine-131 (which has a half-life of eight days and is used in medical diagnosis), 14 fluorodeoxyglucose (a solution used for medical imaging incorporating fluorene-18, which has a half-life of just under 110 minutes); and 13 cobalt-60 (which has a half-life of 5.27 years and is used in radiotherapy for cancer care, among other applications).
The main outputs of the Rome workshop are the establishment of:
|Contact: Giovanni Verlini|
International Atomic Energy Agency