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Chile Hosts Second IAEA Occupational Radiation Protection Appraisal Service

ORPAS team member monitoring the process during the production of Iodine-131 at the CCHEN Atomic Centre Lo Aguirre. (R. C. Suarez/IAEA)

ORPAS team member monitoring the process during the production of Iodine-131 at the CCHEN Atomic Centre Lo Aguirre. (R. C. Suarez/IAEA)

Chile demonstrated its commitment to occupational radiation protection by hosting its second IAEA Occupational Radiation Protection Appraisal Service (ORPAS) in November 2017.

Chile became the first country to request and host a second round of the service, which appraises a country’s legislative and regulatory infrastructure for radiation protection of workers, using IAEA safety standards as a basis. Chile hosted its first ORPAS in 2007.

Patricio Aguilera Poblete, Executive Director of the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN), said recommendations from the earlier appraisal had helped the country create better working conditions for occupationally exposed personnel by recommending ways to strengthen workplace monitoring and safety culture.

He added that he expected the recent appraisal to bring further improvement: “This assessment helps our country to obtain objectivity and support to the work we are performing.”

As part of the appraisal, a team of four senior experts from Brazil, Costa Rica, Argentina and the IAEA visited several institutions in Chile, including hospitals, a radioisotope production facility, an industrial irradiation facility, a waste management plant and  laboratories that provides  dosimetry and calibration services.  The ORPAS team also reviewed documents, observed processes and interviewed staff.

The team reviewed the results of a self-assessment Chile had conducted with the help of the IAEA’s Self-Assessment of Regulatory Infrastructure for Safety (SARIS) tool when planning its work. The appraisal findings, including recommendations, will be compiled in a report that will be shared with Chile’s authorities.

By hosting its second ORPAS, Chile demonstrated its long-term commitment to protecting workers from undue radiation, said Rodolfo Cruz Suarez, IAEA Radiation Protection Specialist and ORPAS coordinator.

 “We hope that more countries will follow the example of Chile and request second appraisals, as these enable countries to receive insights about their strengths and weaknesses,” he said. “A second appraisal helps countries ensure they are continuously improving.”

Chile is among 17 countries that have hosted ORPAS missions since the launch of the service in 2002.

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