The barrels were kept in a warehouse from February 23rd to February 26th when the airline made application to and received approval to transport radioactive material from the Atomic Energy Council.
Employees at the Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport found relatively low radioactive levels of the iridium isotope which was being transported to Singapore from the United States.
The destination and intended use of the material is not known. Iridium 193 is used to detect weaknesses in metal pipes, in radiotherapy, and in radiation treatment of certain cancers.
This article underscores the importance of airline industry regulation of hazardous material transportation. The article also underscores the importance of consistency in inspection and detection techniques in international airports.
Since levels of radioactivity were low, perhaps employees in U.S. airports found no cause for concern. It was probably assumed that the airline had the proper permit for handling and transporting the iridium.
It is reasonable and correct for the Atomic Energy Council to levy a fine for not having the proper transportation permit. However, the Council needs to work with cargo carriers, international agencies, and airports to develop uniform inspection and detection protocols.
Inspection techniques should have examining transport licensing and permits as an objective. Detection techniques should have determining acceptable radioactivity levels as an objective. The techniques should have safe and timely transport of materials as a common goal.
CAL TO BE FINED FOR TRANSPORTING RADIOACTIVE MATERIAL WITHOUT PERMIT. (March 6, 2009). AsiaPulse News. Retrieved March 10, 2009, from General OneFile via Gale.
Google Finance. China Airlines Ltd.(Public, TPE:2610) Retrieved March 10. 2009, from http://www.google.com/finance?q=TPE:2610