Directive 2003/122/Euratom - radioactive sources

Latest update: 04/10/2017
of 22 December 2003 on the control of high-activity sealed radioactive sources and orphan sources

Directive 2013/59/Euratom will repeal the Directive by 6 February 2018.

The purpose of this Directive is to prevent exposure of workers and the public to ionising radiation arising from inadequate control of high-activity sealed radioactive sources and orphan sources. The minimum obligations resulting from this Directive supplement those set out in Directive 96/29/Euratom.


The Directive gives legal definitions for terms "orphan source", "high-activity source", "practice", "authorisation", "competent authority", "disused source", "holder", "manufacturer", "recognised installation", "exposed worker", "sealed source", "supplier", "transfer", "source container".


Member States shall require the holder to obtain prior authorisation for any practice involving a source, including taking possession of. Member States shall ensure that, before issuing authorisation adequate arrangements adequate provisions have been made. Authorisation shall cover:

  • responsibilities;
  • minimum staff competencies, including information and training;
  • minimum performance criteria of materials and equipments, etc.;
  • requirements for emergency procedures and communication links;
  • work procedures to be followed;
  • maintenance of equipment, sources and containers;
  • adequate management of disused sources.

The Directive deals with administrative duties and traceability of sources.

The holder of sources shall promptly notify the competent authority of any incident or accident resulting in unintentional exposure of a worker or a member of the public.

The holder shall provide training for exposed workers with special attention on safety, regularly repeated and documented.

Member States make available special advice and assistance for outsiders that suspect the presence of an orphan source. Member States shall encourage the establishment of systems detecting orphan sources at e.g. metal scrap yards and recycling installations.


Activity levels of radionuclides

Read the full text of this Directive

National laws implementing this Directive

Further information on this topic