Transporting radioactive materials


Strict international regulations govern the transport of radioactive material to ensure the safety of the public and the environment.

The transport of radioactive materials gains significant media and public attention. Tens of millions of radioactive material packages have been transported around around the world over several decades.


Thanks to robust methods, there has never been an in-transit accident that has caused serious human health, economic or environmental consequences attributable to the radioactive nature of the goods.


Of all the movements of materials classed as hazardous throughout the world, only a small percentage involve radioactive material.


Accidents involving vehicles carrying flammable liquids and gases, explosives, toxic chemicals or other dangerous goods pose significantly greater risks to the public and the environment than do any possible accidents involving radioactive material.


Transport methods in Australia

Transport incidents involving radioactive materials in Australia have been very rare events. There has been no transport incident in the movement of ANSTO's materials with significant radiological consequences.


ANSTO sends around 2000 packages per month of radioisotopes for medical and industrial uses to destinations around Australia and overseas. Such packages regularly travel through Australia for delivery to various industrial sites, and to over 200 nuclear medicine centres.


As well as ANSTO's movements of radioactive material, there are also thousands of movements of other radioactive sources used in industry, agriculture, medicine and research around Australia every year.


The transportation of these packages is undertaken according to the Australian Code for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material (2014) and adopts the International Atomic Energy Agency Regulations for the Safe Transport of Radioactive Material 2012 Edition (No. SSR-6). It is intended to establish uniform requirements for the transport of radioactive material in Australia by road, rail or those waterways not covered by the Maritime legislation.


Further information

For an international perspective, and facts on the Transport of Radioactive Materials, please visit the World Nuclear Association.


The Australian regulations can be found on the ARPANSA site.


TheDepartment of Industry provides comprehensive information about the management of radioactive waste in Australia.