ASN was informed by the ECW company (Courcelles-les-Lens) that one of their gamma ray projects had been carried on the public highway on 2ndMarch 2015 in conditions failing to comply with a number of requirements stipulated by the transport approval issued by ASN. Indeed, the device was not in the closed and locked position and was equipped with its site accessories, which prevented it from being fully inserted into its transport casing.
These deviations increased the risk of ejection of the radioactive source from its shielding in the event of an accident and could have led to the irradiation of the individuals in the immediate vicinity of the accident site.
Following notification of this event, ASN carried out two reactive inspections in the premises of the ECW agency, on 26th March and 14th April. The numerous deviations noted by the inspectors show a lack of safety culture within the agency. ASN asked ECW to take corrective measures (see the inspection follow-up letters).
Given the potential consequences in terms of public and worker exposure, ASN rated this transport incident level 2 on the international nuclear and radiological events scale ( INES ), which comprises 8-level (from 0 to 7).
Gamma ray projectors are devices used in industrial radiography to detect defects in materials. They contain a high-level radioactive source in a shielded compartment, from which is only deployed when carrying out radiographic examinations. This compartment, which provides radiological protection, must be closed by a shutter during transport of the gamma ray projector (closed and locked position). Given the activity level of their source, gamma ray projectors must be transported in packages approved by ASN. The approval certificate issued by ASN comprises a certain number of requirements which, if followed, guarantee the correct performance of the package during the regulation tests simulating an accident.