Getting isotopes a challenge

Airlines, shipping firms refuse to carry radioactive materials, creating problems

John Dudley Miller(johnmiller@nasw.org)
Sep 19, 2004

As more and more airlines and ocean-going shipping firms refuse to carry radioactive materials, it is becoming more difficult to procure radioisotopes, according to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). Should this problem continue to grow, says the IAEA, researchers and other users in some parts of the world may not be able to obtain them at all.

"Denials are occurring in all parts of the world," members of a committee convened to recommend solutions to the problem wrote in a recent IAEA report. But committee members interviewed by The Scientist said the problem is manageable so far and that the IAEA's concern is for the future.

British Airways and KML Royal Dutch Airlines ban radioactives, airline spokespeople said. Northwest Airlines bans shipments on all its passenger planes, allowing them only on international cargo freighters, according to a spokesperson. Several Asian airlines also refuse nuclear shipments, according to two...

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