Radiological Incident at Barcelona-El Prat Airport

Radiological Incident at Barcelona-El Prat Airport On the morning of February 20, 2024, a radiological incident was reported at Barcelona-El Prat Airport (BCN), leading to the temporary isolation of an airBaltic A220-300 aircraft. This aircraft, operating as flight LX1952 from Zurich (ZRH) on behalf of SWISS International Airlines, was involved in a concerning situation shortly after its arrival. Ground personnel, during routine unloading operations in the aircraft’s cargo compartment, discovered a box labeled as containing low-intensity radioactive materials intended for medical purposes. The presence of damp patches on the box raised immediate concerns, prompting the activation of the airport’s emergency protocols.

Radiological Incident at Barcelona-El Prat Airport
Radiological Incident at Barcelona-El Prat Airport

The detection of potential radiological material triggered a swift response from the airport authorities, who declared a radiological alert as per established safety procedures. This incident led to the implementation of the general emergency plans AEROCAT and RADCAT, specifically designed to address such threats. Emergency services, including 13 vehicles from the Fire and Rescue Service of the Catalan government equipped to handle radiological and chemical risks, were dispatched to the scene.

Response and Resolution

Radiological Incident at Barcelona-El Prat Airport Upon discovery of the suspicious package, the aircraft, which had already boarded 132 passengers and five crew members for its return flight to Zurich, was immediately cordoned off. The passengers and crew were evacuated to a secure area of the terminal, ensuring their safety while specialists conducted a thorough examination of the aircraft and the package in question. This inspection was crucial to determining the nature of the threat and ensuring that no harm would come to the airport staff, passengers, or the public.

Radiological Incident at Barcelona-El Prat Airport After a comprehensive analysis, experts confirmed that the radioactive material posed no danger to human health or the environment. This assessment allowed for the lifting of the emergency status, and the aircraft was subsequently cleared to resume its scheduled service. The swift and effective response of the emergency teams and the adherence to strict safety protocols were instrumental in resolving the situation without any adverse effects on airport operations. According to AENA, the airport operator, this incident did not disrupt the airport’s normal functioning, showcasing the effectiveness of the emergency response systems in place.

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