Replacing Cesium-137 Irradiators: Lifecycle Cost and Liability Considerations

Part of Preventing a Dirty Bomb: Radiological Security for Hospitals and Research Centers

Replacing Cesium-137 Irradiators: Lifecycle Cost and Liability Considerations

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Major Lifecycle Cost
Considerations for Cesium-137 Irradiators and X-ray Irradiators 

Hospitals and research
centers in the United States and around the world are addressing concerns about
radiological security, safety, and liability by replacing irradiators that use radioactive
cesium-137 with safe and effective X-ray technology. 

This paper by NTI Senior Consultant Ioanna Iliopulos, outlines major
lifecycle cost considerations for making the switch. 

Use this worksheet template to help you decide if replacing cesium-137 irradiators with x-ray
technology is the right step for you.

Institutions are Liable

The cost of the risk
posed by radioactive devices is seldom used to justify replacing cesium-137
irradiators, but the intentional misuse of a cesium-137 or any other
high-activity radioactive source could result in significant economic
damages.  The liability costs related to
sealed source possession and use should be factored into an institution’s
decision to continue using or to replace a radioactive source with an
available alternative technology. In the United States for example, very few
user facilities have insurance coverage (general liability and excess policies
cover) for this contingency and are not aware that their institution could
potentially be held liable for tens of billions of dollars.  The purchase of insurance coverage, if
available, is very costly, leaving most facilities exposed to first-party and/or
third-party liability if a cesium-137 irradiator was stolen from a medical or
research institution for malevolent intent. Institutions that don’t have
insurance to cover such a devastating event could have to pay huge damages and
might face bankruptcy. 
This liability exposure is completely removed if a facility
switches to a non-gamma-based technology, such as X-ray. Read more about
liability “here” in two Government Accountability (GAO) Reports:

2017 GAO Report:

Market Challenges May Exist for Current Structure and Alternative Approaches

2008 GAO Report:
Status of Coverage Availability for Attacks Involving Nuclear, Biological,
Chemical, or Radiological Weapons

Ready to make the switch to a safe technology?

View a list of commercially available technologies and contact the Office of Radiological Security ([email protected]) to find out if you
qualify for federal funding help through the Cesium Irradiator Replacement Project (CIRP)

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The 2023 NTI Nuclear Security Index


The 2023 NTI Nuclear Security Index

“The bottom line is that the countries and areas with the greatest responsibility for protecting the world from a catastrophic act of nuclear terrorism are derelict in their duty,” the 2023 NTI Index reports.


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