Authorisation to transport radioactive material

A transport permit is required for carrying out shipments of radioactive material within the borders of Sweden. Such permission is granted by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. A permit applicant is required to comply with rules, such as on marking of the consignment, transport security, in addition to containment and shielding of the material in question.

Usually, a permit is required from the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority in order to transport or to arrange for carriage of radioactive material on Swedish territory. These requirements are stated by the Radiation Protection Act (2018:396) and Act on Nuclear Activities (1984:3). This is in addition to meeting all requirements as stated by the provisions of the Act on Transport of Dangerous Goods (2006:263).

Permits are for example issued by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority for shipments of:

  • Irradiated and unirradiated nuclear fuel
  • Raw materials and semi-manufactured products with a link to nuclear fuel manufacture
  • Nuclear waste
  • Radioactive material or radioactive substances used in medical care, research activities or industry.

Shipments of radioactive material belong to Class 7,* i.e. transport of dangerous goods.

During shipping, the consignment with the radioactive content, in other words, the package:

  • Must prevent leakage of the radioactive material
  • Must prevent criticality
  • Must prevent detriment caused by heat, and
  • Shield against radiation so as to prevent detriment to people and the environment.

*) Dangerous goods are broken down into nine classes, of which radioactive material comprises Class 7. For example, see ADR-S below.

Conditions for transport permits

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority, or SSM, makes an assessment as to whether a party applying for a permit has the competence to safely carry out a shipment. Applicants must also ensure that consignments are sufficiently protected against theft and sabotage.

SSM also requires advance notification about each individual transport of nuclear material, and concerning certain other sources of radioactivity. This means that the Authority must be informed about what is to be shipped, the destination of the consignment, and when the transport is to be made.

Transport regulations (listed below) require the following:

  • Containment and shielding of the radioactive material to protect workers and the general public from harmful effects of radiation
  • Criticality safety measures to prevent the risk of fissile material reaching criticality during shipment
  • Labelling, marking and documentation of packages and vehicles
  • Radiation protection programme for optimal radiation protection during transport
  • Transport security to prevent theft and sabotage
  • Quality management system for ensuring compliance with the regulations.

Before a transport is allowed, a consignment requires a permit for transport, also that the package has been designed in accordance with the transport regulations. If the package contains fissile material, in other words, a material that under certain conditions might give rise to self-perpetuating nuclear fission, or comprises a large quantity of some other kind of radioactive material, this package must have been examined and approved by a competent authority. In Sweden, the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority is the competent authority.

When packages do not require this approval, the consignor must have documentation showing that the package design is in compliance with regulations. The content of packagings is subject to rules and regulations that have been agreed internationally. A crucial aspect is that the package must protect the surroundings from the package's content.

A party that is seeking approval for a package design (which presupposes approval by the competent authority) is required to demonstrate that the package type meets all requirements. The package must have been subjected to a number of tests, for instance a drop test, fire test, and submersion in water.

Regulatory authorities in Sweden

The Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency, or MSB, is an enforcing authority for land transports of dangerous goods in Sweden. The Swedish Transport Agency regulates maritime and air carriage. MSB is also a transport authority for aspects that cannot be categorised as belonging to a certain mode of transport.

International and Swedish transport regulations

The regulatory framework for carriage of dangerous goods is extensive, with international agreements as its basis.

Carriage of dangerous goods in Sweden is subject to the following:

  • MSB's regulations concerning transport of dangerous goods by road and off-road (ADR-S), and by rail (RID-S)

ADR-S and RID-S, on the website of MSB

  • The Swedish Transport Agency's regulations concerning maritime carriage of packaged dangerous goods (the IMDG Code)

The IMDG Code, on the website of the Swedish Transport Agency

  • Air carriage is subject to ICAO-TI, the International Civil Aviation Organization's Technical Instructions for The Safe Transport of Dangerous Goods by Air. These requirements are incorporated by the Act (2006:263) and the Ordinance (2006:311) concerning transport of dangerous goods, as well as by the Swedish Civil Aviation Authority's regulations concerning carriage of dangerous goods.

Authorities with mandates for regulatory supervision in relation to shipments and transports

The following authorities exercise regulatory supervision as defined by the Act on Transport of Dangerous Goods and the regulations issued in accordance with the Act:

  • Police authorities: for road transports
  • Swedish Transport Agency: for transports by railway, air and sea
  • Swedish Coast Guard: for goods in land areas of harbours and, as requested by the Swedish Transport Agency, supervision of maritime carriage of packaged dangerous goods
  • Swedish Civil Contingencies Agency (MSB): for safety advisers and transport security
  • Swedish Radiation Safety Authority: for transports of radioactive material.