On 24 September 2018 two Americium-241/Beryllium (Am-241/Be) industrial radiography sources, each with an activity of 666GBq, were transiting through Heathrow airport (London). On arrival at Heathrow the sources were rejected for onward airfreight due to the inability to X-ray the contents. The sources were consequently delivered to a third party company, however, this company was not authorised to hold radioactive material and had no radiation safety procedures in place.
The operations manager at the holding company became aware of the presence of the packages on 27 September and contacted a company which specialises in the transport of radioactive materials. This company offered radiological protection advice and the situation was reported to the UK Office for Nuclear Regulation in line with establish national arrangements. These sources were then safely transferred to a secure facility that is authorised to hold radioactive materials of this nature.
There were no safety consequences to people or the environment as a result of this event. There is no evidence that the transport packages were compromised at any point. A breach of the normal level of defence in depth associated with the transport of radioactive material in the UK occurred because the package was consigned to a company that did not have appropriate radiation safety procedures in place. No proactive response outside the UK is expected to be required.
Location: Export packing company in vicinity of Heathrow Event date: Mon, 24-09-2018