Alert at Barcelona airport due to suspected radioactive leak on a plane  

Protecció Civil, Generalitat de Catalunya

A radiological incident took place at Barcelona-El Prat airport (BCN) on February 20, 2024, forcing the temporary isolation of an airBaltic A220-300, which had just operated flight LX1952 from Zurich (ZRH) on behalf of SWISS International Airlines. 

In a statement issued to AeroTime, airBaltic confirmed that during the unloading of the aircraft’s cargo compartment, ground staff discovered a box containing low-intensity radioactive materials for medical use which showed damp patches.  

This finding triggered the activation of the airport’s general emergency plans and the declaration of a radiological alert. Emergency services temporarily cordoned off the affected aircraft, which already had 132 passengers and five crew members on board and was ready to depart for Zurich when the incident was declared.  

The Fire and Rescue Service of the Catalan government confirmed in a statement published on social media that 13 of its vehicles had responded to the emergency, including units specialized in dealing with radiological and chemical risks. 

All passengers and crew were evacuated to a section of the terminal while the aircraft was checked by specialists. 

Upon verification that there was no danger, the emergency status was lifted, and the aircraft could complete its rotation and fly back to Zurich as scheduled. 

According to airport operator AENA, the incident did not affect the normal operations of the airport. 

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