Working with radioactive substances

Anyone wishing to transport radioactive substances by road in Northern Ireland must comply with the appropriate regulations, which include not only couriers transporting radioactive packages but also industrial radiographers and users of nuclear density gauges.


These regulations require all radioactive transport by road to be done in accordance with the provisions set out in Annexes A and B to the European Agreement concerning the International Carriage of Dangerous Goods by Road (ADR). Some additional requirements in relation to radiological emergencies are also imposed by the 2010 regulations. In Northern Ireland, NIEA are the competent authority for enforcing this legislation.

Who the regulations apply to

The regulations apply not only to the carrier who is actually transporting the goods but there are also obligations on everyone involved in the consignment including the consignor, consignee, packer, loader etc. Different conditions apply depending on the type of radioactive package involved (excepted, type A etc) but in general those involved in radioactive transport must have in place a quality assurance programme covering the transport of radioactive material, a radiation protection programme and procedures for dealing with radiological emergencies.

All staff involved in radioactive transport should have an appropriate level of training (including security training). There are requirements relating to labelling of packages, placarding of vehicles and the type of safety equipment which must be carried in the vehicle.

Advice on transporting radioactive material

If you wish to transport radioactive material you should consult a Radiation Protection Advisor or Dangerous Goods Safety Advisor to ensure you are fully complying with the regulations.

Transfrontier shipments of radioactive substances

If you are importing sealed sources or other relevant sources into Northern Ireland, you must complete a declaration under EURATOM. The declaration form can be downloaded under the appropriate section *here* , and should be submitted to the Industrial Pollution & Radiochemical Inspectorate for approval. There is no charge for this and the declaration can cover one shipment or a number of shipments and last for up to 3 years.

Medical Administration of Radioactive Substances (MARS)

NIEA’s Industrial Pollution and Radiochemical Inspectorate (IPRI) act as agent for the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) enforcing the following acts:

Monitoring visits are made to hospitals where radioactive substances are administered to patients for the purpose of diagnosis, treatment or research. The reports of these visits are passed to the DHSSPS for action as appropriate.

Justification of practices

The use of any practice which involves exposure to radiation must be justified. The principle of  justification is that the practice must produce at least sufficient benefit to the exposed individuals or to society to offset the radiation detriment it causes. The Justification of Practices Involving Ionising Radiation Regulations 2004 provide the framework for the justification process.

Anyone wishing to introduce a new practice involving exposure to radiation must apply to have it justified under the regulations. This is normally done via the Justification Application Centre.

Justification Application Centre (JAC) Mezzanine
55 Whitehall Place

Tel: 0300 068 6101

Further guidance

Further guidance is available from DECC and there is also a register of justification applications and decisions. NIEA will normally form part of the Justification Liaison Group in the case of practices involving radioactive substances.

Consultation on Revised Requirements for Radiological Protection: Regulation of Public Exposures and the Justification of Practices


The Department of Agriculture, Environment and Rural Affairs has published the above named consultation paper as part of a UK-wide consultation.  The 2013 Euratom Basic Safety Standards Directive (2013/59/EURATOM) lays down safety standards for protecting against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation. We are seeking views on the proposals for implementing the requirements of the Directive in relation to planned and existing public exposure situations and the justification of practices involving ionising radiation.    

Consultation on Revised Requirements for Radiological Protection: Regulation of Public Exposures and the Justification of Practices                                  





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