According to a study from 2017, radioactive material accounts for a very small proportion of all dangerous material shipped each year. In the United States, the world’s largest producer of nuclear power, radioactive material only accounts for 1% of hazardous or dangerous goods shipped in a year. But even a small amount of radioactive material can have a tremendous impact if mishandled. It is therefore crucial to understand and utilize the appropriate, compliant methods and tools for transporting radioactive materials. Tools including Type A radioactive packaging.
Despite making up a seemingly small percentage of shipped goods, radioactive substances are used extensively in a multitude of industries including medicine, agriculture, research and manufacturing, non-destructive testing and minerals exploration. But Type A Radioactive Packaging isn’t a catch-all compliant packaging for radioactive materials. There is also Excepted, Industrial, Type B and Type C radioactive packaging. So what is Type A and when do you use it?
Type A packages are used for the transport of relatively small quantities of radioactive material. But just because they are meant for limited quantities, doesn’t mean they are designed for limited protection. Type A is used for small but mighty amounts of radioactive material. They are designed to mitigate and withstand an accident involving medium-activity materials such as medical or industrial radioisotopes and even some nuclear fuel materials.
The ability to package nuclear fuel materials is crucial because transport is an integral part of the nuclear fuel cycle. Many nations that mine for nuclear fuel materials such as uranium don’t actually produce nuclear power, so this uranium is regularly being transported across borders by road, rail and ships, and even a small quantity can have a significant impact on the environment if not properly contained.
At Skolnik, we manufacture 7A Type A steel drums which are made of carbon or stainless steel and have been tested according to 7A Type A regulations. Our 7A Type A drums are intended for use as shipping and storage containers for these permissible radioactive materials, however it is the responsibility of the packager/shipper to certify that the package meets all applicable DOT 7A Type A requirements, as they are responsible for the understanding and proper containment of their materials.
For more information on the nuclear fuel cycle and the transport of nuclear materials, we recommend this 2017 in-depth breakdown from the World Nuclear Association.