The IAEA Transport Regulations, which are adopted into the UN Model Regulations, which in turn are adopted in the ADR and RID Agreements for road and rail transports and the IMDG Code and ICAO Technical Instructions for sea and air modes, were first published in 1961. Since that time the IAEA has revised their requirements several times to reflect experience and the latest advances in knowledge and technology; the latest revision was published in 2014.
The transport of nuclear material has been successfully and safety undertaken for over 50 years without serious incident yet the transport of nuclear material continues to attract public attention, though it can be said often the public attention is not for reasons of public concern about the safety of transport.
Putting the transport of nuclear material into context, each year in the European Union approximately 3 million packages containing radioactive material are transported by road, rail, sea and air with only approximately 5% related to the nuclear sector. Radioactive material is used in many products and industrial products and of course in the diagnosis and treatment of cancer, consequently a high proportion of packages transported relate to the industrial testing sectors principally by road and the radiopharmaceutical sector by road/air/road which need reliable and fast delivery routes due to the short half-life of the isotopes involved.
Compliance with transport regulations is the single most important factor that affects transport safety. The introduction of more regulatory requirements, particularly variations in requirements in the countries involved in the transport route, does not automatically improve safety; it can sometimes have the opposite effect by making the transport regulations too complex and inconsistent.
Over the last decade became increasingly apparent to many involved in the regulatory oversight of the transport of radioactive material, that closer collaboration between competent authorities would provide a more effective basis to harmonise the interpretation of transport regulatory requirements between States who operate under the ADR and RID European Agreements and to share relevant and good practice between the transport regulatory authorities.