Radiation protection

What to do in an emergency

Would you know what to do if a thoron generator burst and seriously contaminated staff or pupils with radioactive dust? If you decided (having followed CLEAPSS guidance in L93) that emergency measures were required, what should you do?

CLEAPSS has pointed out to us that not all accident and emergency departments will take cases of radioactive contamination, so we sought advice from the emergency services. The advice is: do not move the contaminated people, this will just spread the problem.

Call the emergency services and they will send both an ambulance crew and a fire crew. The fire brigade have specialist decontamination equipment and when they are satisfied, the ambulance crew will take the patient(s) to the nearest of these four hospitals:

  • Royal Hampshire County Hospital (Winchester)
  • North Hampshire Hospital (Basingstoke)
  • Southampton General Hospital (Southampton)
  • Queen Alexandra's Hospital (Cosham)
Radiation protection supervisor (RPS)

Every school with radioactive substances should appoint an RPS who is in a position to oversee the correct storage, testing and use of the materials. Training courses for RPS are provided in the County by CLEAPSS as demand requires. The expectation is that this will be a teacher, probably the head of science or the head of physics.

Support for the RPS can be found in the Radiation Protection Supervisor Area of the HIAS science Moodle. Further support is available on the restricted CLEAPSS RPA Service web page.

Radiation protection officer (RPO)

The Children's Services Department has an RPO who is a member of the HIAS Science Team. The RPO should be the first point of contact for the school in the event of a query. Details are available on the HIAS science website, or by contacting the County Inspector/Adviser for Science.

Radiation protection adviser service (RPA)

The Children's Services Department has bought into the CLEAPSS Radiation Protection Adviser Service in order for schools to have access to expert technical advice. Contact should be made via the RPO in the first instance.

  • Documents showing the history of each radioactive item should be kept, including date and method of disposal. A letter of authority from the DfE is also a legal requirement.
  • A log of use should be updated each time a source is removed and returned to the store.
  • Leak testing should be carried out annually and a monitoring record updated.
  • Local rules are required for establishments holding radioactive substances. Model local rules are available in the CLEAPSS Guide L93 (pages 36 to 40) and these should be adapted as appropriate to local circumstances.

CLEAPSS RPA Service, Form 1: Information from an individual school/college

L093 – Managing ionising radiations and radioactive substances in schools and colleges

PS046a – Radiation protection in schools. Guidance for employers. Information for local authorities

PS079 – Radioactivity: instrumentation for leak tests and contamination checks