Replacing Cesium-137 Irradiators: Lifecycle Cost and Liability Considerations

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 radiological devices is seldom used to justify replacing cesium-137 irradiators, but the intentional misuse of a cesium-137 or any other high-activity radiological 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 radiological 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 hundreds 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:
TERRORISM RISK INSURANCE
Market Challenges May Exist for Current Structure and Alternative Approaches

2008 GAO Report:
TERRORISM INSURANCE
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 (ORSInfo@nnsa.doe.gov) to find out if you qualify for federal funding help through the Cesium Irradiator Replacement Project (CIRP)


Click here to return to the Preventing a Dirty Bomb resources page.

November 20, 2018
About

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 page outlines cost and liability considerations for making the switch.