Our work to enhance safety

Each year in Sweden, several thousand packages containing radioactive material are transported. Most of these transports are by road, but some consignments are transported by air or sea. A few consignments are transported by rail.

The package, or in other words the packaging with the radioactive content, must prevent the radioactive substance from leaking out and prevent detriment to people and the environment.

Radioactive material is used in many areas and in many arenas in society, such as medical care, research and the nuclear power and other industries. Radioactive material is transported in different ways and packaged in different kinds of packagings depending on the quantity of the radioactive substance in question and its properties.

Transports of nuclear material, e.g. nuclear fuel, can represent a critical stage when there is a risk of theft. Parties that intend to transport nuclear material or nuclear waste must always submit an application for a permit to the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority for the shipment.

The role of the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority

Special permits are required for transports of nuclear waste, spent and new nuclear fuel as well as raw materials and semi-manufactured products used for nuclear fuel in Sweden. The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority issues these permits. Permits may also be needed for transports of other radioactive material.

A consignment may not only require a permit for transport; approval of the transport package is also required. There are international rules governing the content of packagings. The decisive factor is that they must protect the surroundings from this content. Transport packagings for fissile material (material that in its pure form could cause a self-perpetuating nuclear chain reaction) must be approved by the Swedish Radiation Safety Authority. Packagings for other kinds of radioactive material may also require the Authority’s approval.

As far as concerns import into, export from or transit through Sweden, authorisation may be needed for the radioactive material depending on the kind of material in question. The Authority also issues these permits. What's more, the Authority is the supervisory authority for transports of radioactive material.

International transport regulations

The Swedish Radiation Safety Authority takes part in the work of the United Nations’ atomic energy agency, the IAEA, in order to influence the formulation of the international transport regulations applying to radioactive material. These regulations are eventually incorporated into Swedish legislation. Apart from requirements imposed on the container itself, the international transport regulations impose many requirements on administration and competence. Among other things, the consignor is liable to ensure that the container only contains the material for which it has been approved and that the transport documents are correct. Everyone involved in transports of radioactive material must have completed a relevant training programme. 

The Authority also participates in various working groups for the purpose of improving safety in connection with transports of radioactive material. These for example include: 

  • The IAEA’s Transport Safety Standards Committee
  • The Association of European Competent Authorities for the safe transport of radioactive material