Emergency Response Guide No. 165 for RADIOACTIVE MATERIALS (Fissile / Low to High Level Radiation)

Source: Emergency Response Guidebook (ERG)

  • Radiation presents minimal risk to transport workers, emergency response personnel and the public during transportation accidents. Packaging durability increases as potential radiation and criticality hazards of the content increase.
  • Undamaged packages are safe. Contents of damaged packages may cause higher external radiation exposure, or both external and internal radiation exposure if contents are released.
  • Type AF or IF packages, identified by package markings, do not contain life-threatening amounts of material. External radiation levels are low and packages are designed, evaluated and tested to control releases and to prevent a fission chain reaction under severe transport conditions.
  • Type B(U)F, B(M)F and CF packages (identified by markings on packages or shipping papers) contain potentially life-endangering amounts. Because of design, evaluation and testing of packages, fission chain reactions are prevented and releases are not expected to be life-endangering for all accidents except those of utmost severity.
  • The rarely occurring "Special Arrangement" shipments may be of Type AF, BF or CF packages. Package type will be marked on packages, and shipment details will be on shipping papers.
  • The transport index (TI) shown on labels or a shipping paper might not indicate the radiation level at one meter from a single, isolated, undamaged package; instead, it might relate to controls needed during transport because of the fissile properties of the materials. Alternatively, the fissile nature of the contents may be indicated by a criticality safety index (CSI) on a special FISSILE label or on the shipping paper.
  • Some radioactive materials cannot be detected by commonly available instruments.
  • Water from cargo fire control is not expected to cause pollution.
  • These materials are seldom flammable. Packages are designed to withstand fires without damage to contents.
  • Radioactivity does not change flammability or other properties of materials.
  • Type AF, IF, B(U)F, B(M)F and CF packages are designed and evaluated to withstand total engulfment in flames at temperatures of 800°C (1475°F) for a period of 30 minutes.

  • CALL Emergency Response Telephone Number on Shipping Paper first. If Shipping Paper not available or no answer, refer to appropriate telephone number listed on the inside back cover.
  • Priorities for rescue, life-saving, first aid, fire control and other hazards are higher than the priority for measuring radiation levels.
  • Radiation Authority must be notified of accident conditions. Radiation Authority is usually responsible for decisions about radiological consequences and closure of emergencies.
  • As an immediate precautionary measure, isolate spill or leak area for at least 25 meters (75 feet) in all directions.
  • Stay upwind, uphill and/or upstream.
  • Keep unauthorized personnel away.
  • Detain or isolate uninjured persons or equipment suspected to be contaminated; delay decontamination and cleanup until instructions are received from Radiation Authority.
  • Positive pressure self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) and structural firefighters' protective clothing will provide adequate protection against internal radiation exposure, but not external radiation exposure.
Large Spill
  • Consider initial downwind evacuation for at least 100 meters (330 feet).
  • When a large quantity of this material is involved in a major fire, consider an initial evacuation distance of 300 meters (1000 feet) in all directions.
  • [FLAG] In Canada, an Emergency Response Assistance Plan (ERAP) may be required for this product. Please consult the shipping document and/or the ERAP Program Section (page 391).

  • Presence of radioactive material will not influence the fire control processes and should not influence selection of techniques.
  • Move containers from fire area if you can do it without risk.
  • Do not move damaged packages; move undamaged packages out of fire zone.
Small Fire
  • Dry chemical, CO2, water spray or regular foam.
Large Fire
  • Water spray, fog (flooding amounts).
  • Do not touch damaged packages or spilled material.
  • Damp surfaces on undamaged or slightly damaged packages are seldom an indication of packaging failure. Most packaging for liquid content have inner containers and/or inner absorbent materials.
Liquid Spill
  • Package contents are seldom liquid. If any radioactive contamination resulting from a liquid release is present, it probably will be low-level.
  • Ensure that medical personnel are aware of the material(s) involved and take precautions to protect themselves.
  • Call 911 or emergency medical service.
  • Medical problems take priority over radiological concerns.
  • Use first aid treatment according to the nature of the injury.
  • Do not delay care and transport of a seriously injured person.
  • Give artificial respiration if victim is not breathing.
  • Administer oxygen if breathing is difficult.
  • In case of contact with substance, immediately flush skin or eyes with running water for at least 20 minutes.
  • Injured persons contaminated by contact with released material are not a serious hazard to health care personnel, equipment or facilities.