Office for Nuclear Regulation

Unannounced roadside stops check radioactive transport compliance

21 December, 2023

The Office for Nuclear Regulation (ONR) recently joined a pre-planned roadside stop operation to ensure compliance with the regulations covering the transportation of radioactive materials on the country’s roads.

ONR took part in a series of unannounced M6 motorway checks in Sandbach, Cheshire, to check vehicles were adhering to laws for carrying dangerous goods.

A number of police forces, including Suffolk, Essex, Cheshire, Sussex and Surrey, attended the operation along with representatives of carriage of dangerous goods stakeholders including the Driver and Vehicle Standards Agency and the National Chemicals Emergency Centre.

ONR has several agency agreements with police forces across the country which grant authority for constabularies to stop vehicles thought to be carrying radioactive materials, known as Class 7 dangerous goods.

The operation, on 28 November, was part of a two-day event run by the National Carriage of Dangerous Goods Practitioners Forum, hosted by the Northwest Commercial Vehicle Unit.

The stops covered various aspects of Carriage of Dangerous Goods and Use of Transportable Pressure Equipment Regulations 2009 (CDG09) compliance including the integrity of Class 7 packages, appropriate vehicle markings, proper training and certification of drivers, and the presence of documentation and equipment to assist in emergency situations.

Roadside stop

Data gathered during the operation showed that almost half (48%) of the 21 vehicles examined were non-compliant relating to other matters, with offences ranging from insecure loads, missing equipment including fire extinguishers and shovels, orange-coloured plates wrongly displayed when no dangerous good were being carried and emergency contact numbers obscured.

No offences were found relating to the transport of radioactive material on this occasion

Police officers issued three road traffic offence reports, three prohibition notices and gave four sets of words of advice.

ONR’s Transport Competent Authority (TCA) team of qualified inspectors oversees the transport of radioactive material by road, rail and inland waterways within Great Britain.

Paul Butler, an ONR transport inspector who attended the Sandbach operation, said: “This was an extremely worthwhile event as we continue to emphasise the message that dutyholders must ensure they are compliant with all Class 7 regulations before they start their journey.

Roadside stop group photo of various organisations

“The message is clear, if you carry Class 7 goods, you must carry out all checks to conform with the law otherwise police officers, on behalf of ONR, could soon be pulling you over.

“Our Transport Competent Authority Team undertake transport routine compliance dutyholder inspections within both the nuclear and non-nuclear sectors, but unannounced roadside stops allow us to observe vehicles in a different, and potentially more testing dynamic, once a company has deemed a Class 7 package, and a vehicle, legally ready to be taken onto the country’s roads.”

ONR previously took part in unannounced roadside stops earlier this year in Northamptonshire and Staffordshire

Further stops are planned in 2024.