New Regulators from Latin America and Caribbean Trained in Radiation Safety and Nuclear Security


New staff of regulatory bodies from six countries in Latin America and the Caribbean have completed the IAEA’s first training for regulators that combines radiation safety requirements and nuclear security recommendations in Buenos Aires, Argentina. Boosted by the knowledge and training provided by the course, the 12 participants — seven women and five men, reflecting support for a gender-inclusive environment in nuclear related careers — are expected to quickly become expert regulators for their countries.

“The new course has been specifically designed to draw on the commonalities in radiation safety and nuclear security regulations, and to amplify the advantages that can come from combining the two in regulatory activities,” said Lydie Evrard, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.

Professionals from Argentina, Cuba, Dominican Republic, El Salvador, Panama and Peru took part in the six-week programme, held from 2 October to 10 November 2023. It was hosted by Argentina’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ARN) at their regional training centre, part of the IAEA’s network of centres that assist countries in the region to   build competence in radiation, transport and waste safety.

“The ARN has partnered with the IAEA for more than 40 years in education and training, which is central to the development and acquisition of good practices in the nuclear sector,” said Rubén Novo, Head of the ARN’s Education and Training Unit. “This new course, fully based on IAEA publications for radiation safety and nuclear security, has worldwide application and will undoubtedly benefit regulatory activities of the region.”

The safety and security interface

The protection of people, society and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation is at the heart of the IAEA’s work in nuclear safety and security. While nuclear and radiation safety aims to prevent accidents and mitigate the consequences should an accident occur, nuclear security focuses on detecting, preventing and responding to criminal or intentional unauthorized acts involving nuclear or other radioactive material, associated facilities and associated activities.

The new course integrates radiation safety and nuclear security regulations for all facilities and activities consistently, including how to manage the interface between safety and security, recognize the differences between safety and security, and develop harmonized safety and security cultures.

“The course has shown us the combined vision of safety and security, which I can use to update and strengthen the medical and physical regulatory infrastructure in my country, ensuring that regulations for safety and security are harmonized at all times,” said Rayko Rivera Ferrer, a specialist for regulatory policies at the Office of Environmental Regulation and Nuclear Safety, Cuba.

Among the training areas covered was instruction on how to perform basic regulatory duties widely used in medical and industrial facilities and activities, under limited supervision, based on core regulatory processes. Participants performed simulated inspections at real medical facilities offering radiotherapy services, identified cases of non-compliance and, where applicable, proposed enforcement actions.

“This course has given me the knowledge and skills to contribute to strengthening the legal framework for radiation safety and security of radioactive material in El Salvador,” said Patricia Aguilar a lawyer at El Salvador’s Ministry of Health. “This represents an important step towards improving our national regulatory infrastructure.”

The training for new regulators is currently offered through the IAEA’s Regulatory Infrastructure Development Project (RIDP), a technical assistance mechanism supporting countries in establishing or enhancing the national regulatory infrastructure for radiation safety and for security of radioactive material.

As in the case of most ground level regulatory training offered by the IAEA, the course can form a basis for other IAEA courses that target more experienced regulators or established regulatory frameworks, or that focus on specialized subjects and complex technologies. This includes regional in-person trainings for the regulatory control of medical and industrial practices and the hybrid advanced national training for the regulatory control of radiotherapy, held in person and online.

The training course is built on the internationally accepted IAEA Safety Standards and Nuclear Security Guidance  and associated legally non-binding instruments such as the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources.  It complements the services and tools offered by the IAEA for both radiation safety and security of radioactive material, including peer review missions and advisory services and information databases like the Regulatory Authority Information System (RAIS+) launched at the 67th IAEA General Conference in September this year.

The training course also forms part of the IAEA’s revised approach to assist regulatory bodies to develop and sustain staff competencies for radiation safety and security of radioactive material, presented at the International Conference on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources: Accomplishments and Future Endeavours.

The next IAEA courses for junior regulators are planned in the Africa region in 2024, in Ghana and Morocco.

Source : IAEA