Belgian among passengers on flight with radioactive package
Thursday, 10 August 2017
One Belgian was among the passengers of a flight from Cairo to Brussels via Zurich on July 13 last on which a package later found to be radioactive was transported. The package’s radiation level exceeded the limits set by the regulations on the transport of radioactive materials. However, the dose received by the Belgian passenger, who was alerted by the Federal Public Health Service, was minimal, the Federal Agency for Nuclear Control (FANC) said on its website. Given the absence of significant health consequences linked to this exposure, he does not need to take any special measures, the FANC added.
On Tuesday July 25, a Belgian company, Radioisotopes, received a package sent from Egypt that contained a used radioactive substance. The package had arrived on July 13 at Zaventem Airport in Belgium, where it remained in storage for a number of days. After the package was tested and found to have a higher radiation level than the allowed limits, the company safeguarded it and informed the FANC, which conducted the required tests.
The results showed that the maximum dose to which a passenger could have been exposed directly was 6.6 mSv on the first flight, Cairo to Zurich, and 3.1 mSv on the second leg, Zurich to Brussels.
“The maximum dose for the public is set at 1mSv per year,” the FANC said. “A person living in Belgium receives on average a dose of 2.8 mSv through exposure to natural ionising rays,” the agency explained, adding that “the average dose received during a CT scan of the abdomen, for example, is 8mSv”.
Additional tests showed that everyone, other than the passengers, who was close to the package, such as baggage handlers in the European airports concerned and the driver of the Belgian trucking company, also did not receive doses that could affect their health.
However, the FANC did not have information related to the handling of the package while it was in Egypt, which is the responsibility of the Egyptian safety authorities.