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Supporting Nuclear Safety in Honduras: IAEA Expert Mission Helps Recover Disused Sealed Sources

30 August 2017
<p>The IAEA, through its technical cooperation programme, has dispatched an expert mission on 10-14 July 2017 to provide advice and guidance for the recovery of disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS) from El Mochito Mine, an underground zinc and silver mine located some 200 kilometres north-west of the capital city, Tegucigalpa.</p>
<p>The El Mochito mine has been in operation since 1948 and uses nuclear gauges for level and density measurements. 
Assistance has also been provided for the transfer of the sources from the mine to Honduras’ centralized storage facility. The sources had been used in the past for level and density measurements in the mine.</p>
<p><a href="">Read the story</a> behind the photos.</p>Members of the IAEA expert mission inspecting a shipping container. The expert mission was provided within the framework of an ongoing regional technical cooperation project focused on developing capacities for radioactive waste management in Latin America and the Caribbean.Radiation levels are measured, in the shipping container and directly on the device container.The sources are extracted from their container for their recovery, and radiation doses are verified again.The sources are prepared for packing and shipping for storage by the Honduran authorities.The sources are carefully packed in special containers.Members of the expert mission carry empty barrels to the site. Once they are loaded with the recovered sources, they are used to transport them. High levels of safety must be maintained – frequent checks for contamination are carried out by members of the expert mission. The IAEA requires that all field work carried out by its staff is in compliance with national nuclear regulations.A final reading of the loaded barrels is carried out before transport. Once successfully loaded, the sources are ready for transport to the national storage facility in Tegucigalpa.A final check for residual contamination is conducted in the former storage area.The sources are received at the national storage facility in Tegucigalpa, where they will be removed from the transport container and prepared for long term storage.A member of the IAEA expert mission extracts the sealed source from the nuclear gauge.A Cesium 137 source, no longer in use. The serial number is used by IAEA experts to identify the source’s nominal activity, manufacturer and manufacture date. This data is then passed on to the Honduran authorities.Once dismantled, the sources are put into long term safe storage with sufficient radiation shielding to protect the surroundings. Group photo of the expert team. With the implementation of this project, the safety and security of all radioactive sources in Honduras has been substantially improved.

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