Q: Why is there a need to formulate the Regulation?
A: Transportation of radioactive substances is an important link in the development and application of nuclear energy and nuclear technology. The process is prone to nuclear and radiation accidents. As far as the reality is concerned, it is necessary to create a regulation to strengthen management of safe transportation of radioactive substances.
First, the fast development of application of nuclear energy and technology in China requires us to formulate the regulation. Widespread application of nuclear energy and technology in various fields, particularly in a time when China is promoting the development of nuclear power, has led to rapid increase in the size of transportation and varieties of radioactive substances. Big increase in the number of spent fuel of nuclear power plants and radioactive waste, which are high-risk articles need to be transported, has also increased environmental risk of transportation. Therefore, it is imperative to strengthen management through legislation.
Second, we should improve the management system for safe transportation of radioactive articles. There are some problems with regard to management of safe transportation of radioactive articles in China, such as rough classification of radioactive substances, high cost and ineffectiveness of safety supervision, mediocre quality of the design of transport containers and lack of stronger management of container manufacturers and quality control. All this requires a legislation to improve classification of radioactive substances and specific measures and strengthen management of design and manufacturing of transport containers to ensure safe transportation of radioactive articles.
Third, we need to enhance safety supervision of transportation links. Nuclear and radiation accidents resulting from transportation occur from time to time due to imperfect supervision system on transportation and coexistence of repeated supervision and absence of supervision. So we need to have legislation to further improve and regulate supervision of transportation.
Fourth, the Regulation is developed for the need to effectively implement Law on Prevention and Control of Radioactive Pollution. The Law stipulates in article 15 that State Council shall formulate concrete measures for management of safe transportation of radioactive articles.
Q: What are radioactive substances?
A: From the perspective of management, radioactive substances refer to those containing radioactive nuclide whose activity and specific activity are both higher than the exemption level provided by the state. Generally speaking, radioactive articles contain radioactive nuclide and both the total amount and per unit measurement for mass of radioactivity exceed the limit which is exempted from supervision. The current exemption level specified by the state is below the basic limit of radioactive nuclide as seen from Table 1 of Specification of Safe Transportation of Radioactive Substances (GB11806-2004). Articles with radioactive nuclide amount below the exemption level are not subject to the Regulation.
Q: What are the thoughts for managing safe transportation of radioactive substances?
A: The management of transportation of radioactive substances follows the thought of separation of articles. The main reason is that there are a variety of radioactive substances with different properties and potential environmental risks. Only by separating these articles can we have scientific and efficient management and supervision. Therefore, the Regulation divides radioactive substances into three categories according to their properties and potential harm to human health and the environment. In practice, the common radioactive articles under Category I include Co 60 radioactive sources for irradiation, gamma knife surgery system and waste of high-level radioactivity. Category II articles include radioactive sources for well measurement and radioactive waste of intermediate level. Articles of Category III range from radioactive sources for explosive test, low-level radioactive waste to radioactive medicine. To facilitate separate management of radioactive substances, the Regulation also requires national nuclear safety authority to work out the type of category and inventory of radioactive substances with related departments of the State Council. Meanwhile, the regulation provides targeted measures on the design and manufacturing of transport containers and management of transportation of radioactive articles.
Q: Why does management of transport containers for radioactive substances constitute an important aspect of the Regulation?
A: As radioactive substances are potentially dangerous, the transportation safety needs to be guaranteed by transport containers which will hold goods, serve as protective screen, dissipate heat and prevent critical section. Therefore, we must pay attention to sources and take safety management of transport containers as an important step to supervise safe transportation of radioactive substances. Thus, the Regulation specifies that radioactive substances should be kept in special containers for transportation and provides rules for design and manufacturing of such transport containers.
Q: What are the provisions to strengthen management of container design which caters for the transport of radioactive substances?
A: Quality container for transport of radioactive substances is fundamental to transport safety while safe and reliable container design is all about quality guarantee. To strengthen the management of container design, the Regulation provides the following:
First, a safety assessment system for the design of transport container should be established. The design organization shall be responsible for evaluating the safety performance of containers and record the assessment process for design and safety evaluation.
Second, design and approval system for Grade I containers should be established. The design for Grade I transport containers should be reported to the nuclear safety authority under the State Council for approval before being used for manufacture for the first time. Application materials to be prepared by the design organization and approval procedures are also provided.
Third, design of Grade II transport container should be put on file. The design should be reported to the nuclear safety authority under the State Council for the record before being used for manufacture for the first time.
Fourth, management requirements on the design of Grade III transport containers are also clarified. The design organization should prepare documentation on its design of Grade III transport containers to prove its compliance with national standard for safe transportation of radioactive substances and put them on file.
Q: What are the provisions to strengthen management of manufacturing of transport containers for radioactive substances?
A: The manufacturing quality of transport containers for radioactive substances is the key to safe transportation. To step up management of container production, the Regulation provides the following:
First, identifying the requirement for quality inspection. The regulation requires manufacturers of the transport containers to check quality. Unchecked or unqualified containers are not allowed for delivery.
Second, identifying the qualification for manufacturers of Grade I transport containers. Such organizations should have professional technicians, up-to-standard production conditions and testing methods as well as full-fledged management system and quality guarantee system.
Third, establishing permit system for Grade I container production. Manufacturers of Grade I transport containers should apply for the permit. The application requirements and procedures are also defined.
Fourth, establishing registration system for manufacturing of Grade II and Grade III containers. Organizations producing Grade II containers shall provide related documents to the nuclear safety authority under the State Council for registration before starting production for the first time and manufacturers of Grade III containers should provide the type and quantity of containers produced to the nuclear safety authority under the State Council for registration on a yearly basis.
Fifth, establishing a code system for Grade I and Grade II containers. Manufacturers of these containers are required to have unified coding for them.
Q: What are the provisions made for strengthening transportation management of radioactive substances?
A: The transportation process of radioactive substances bears high risks and is hard for supervision. This link concerns the safety of people's life and property as well as social stability. To strengthen the management of transportation process, the Regulation sets forth the following:
First, raising requirement on the consigner of radioactive substances. The consigner should produce valid identification for production, sales, use or disposal of radioactive substances, use transport containers compatible with the category of items to be packed and be equipped with monitoring equipment, protection articles and security system. The consigners should prepare transport instructions, guidelines for emergency response to nuclear and radiation accidents, methods for loading and unloading and guidelines for safety protection.
Second, establishing monitoring system for surface pollution and radiation level. The Regulation provides that consigners of Grade I radioactive substances should entrust licensed monitoring agency with monitoring of surface pollution and radiation level; consigners for Grade II and III radioactive substances should conduct monitoring on surface pollution and radiation level; radioactive substances failing to meeting national standard for safe transportation through monitoring are not allowed to be consigned.
Third, identifying the qualification of carriers of radioactive substances. Carriers of radioactive substances should obtain the designated transport license as required by the state.
Fourth, establishing nuclear and radiation safety analysis report system for transportation of Grade I radioactive substances. Consigners of Grade I radioactive substances should prepare the analysis report on nuclear and radiation safety and submit it to the national nuclear safety authority for approval. The procedures for report approval are also clarified.
Fifth, bringing forth detailed requirement for management of different transportation mode. The Regulation provides that radioactive substances, which are to be transported through highway, should be transported upon the approval of public security agency and carried with warning labels by designated time, route and speed. The radioactive substances should be put under the supervision of escort staff. Transport of radioactive substances through waterway should abide by related laws and regulations on waterway transportation of hazardous freight while transport through railway and air transport, or mailing of radioactive substances should follow the rules set by national railway, civil aviation and post authorities.
Q: What are the provisions on violations of management of safe transportation of radioactive substances?
A: Strict legal liabilities are important measures to ensure full implementation of management system. The Regulation works out the following rules to address violations of safe transportation of radioactive substances.
First, the Regulation clarifies the responsibilities of related supervision departments. The head or other responsible staff of national nuclear safety authority under the State Council, EPB of provincial, autonomous region or municipal government or other departments responsible for supervision of radioactive substances safety will be subject to punishment for any violations such as granting administrative permit or approval or charging monitoring fees against law. Where there constitutes a crime, the responsible staff shall face criminal prosecution.
Second, the Regulation also sets out responsibilities of management subjects. If the container design and manufacturing organizations fail to go through approval or registration procedures, or deliver unchecked or unqualified transport containers, or consigners and carriers do not follow operation rules, they shall be subject to legal liabilities such as fine, return of shipment, revoking permit, punishment for public security and criminal liabilities.
(This English version is for your reference only.In case any discrepancy exists between the Chinese and English context, the Chinese version shall prevail.)