161 Emergency Response

161 Emergency Response – Radioactive Materials (Low Level Radiation)


Radiation presents minimal risk to transport workers, emergency response personnel, and the public during transportation accidents. Packaging durability increases as potential hazard of radioactive content increases. Very low levels of contained radioactive materials and low radiation levels outside packages result in low risks to people. Damaged packages may release measurable amounts of radioactive material, but the resulting risks are expected to be low. Some radioactive materials cannot be detected by commonly available instruments. Packages do not have RADIOACTIVE I, II, or III labels. Some may have EMPTY labels or may have the word “Radioactive” in the package marking.


Some of these materials may burn, but most do not ignite readily. Many have cardboard outer packaging; content (physically large or small) can be of many different physical forms. Radioactivity does not change flammability or other properties of materials.


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, and control of fire 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. Isolate spill or leak area immediately for at least 25 to 50 meters (80 to 160 feet) in all directions. Stay upwind. 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. EVACUATION Large Spill Consider initial downwind evacuation for at least 100 meters (330 feet). Fire 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.


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 Fires Dry chemical, CO2, water spray or regular foam. Large Fires Water spray, fog (flooding amounts). SPILL OR LEAK Do not touch damaged packages or spilled material. Cover liquid spill with sand, earth or other noncombustible absorbent material. Cover powder spill with plastic sheet or tarp to minimize spreading.


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. Apply 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. Ensure that medical personnel are aware of the material(s) involved, take precautions to protect themselves and prevent spread of contamination.