Regulatory officials from 57 countries -- including 31 participating in IAEA projects for upgrading radiation protection capabilities -- recently reviewed national capabilities for regulating the safety and security of radiation sources used in medicine, industry, and other fields. The venue was an IAEA international conference in Buenos Aires, Argentina, in December 2000.
While most States have effective regulatory systems in place, the Conference found that a considerable number of countries still face difficulties in establishing the regulatory infrastructure for controlling radiation sources. They lack identifiable regulatory authorities, or when they exist, have insufficiently trained staff, inadequate regulations and insufficient financial resources. IAEA projects to assist countries to upgrade their regulatory capabilities were commended, and regarded as an important means of helping States to meet the main requirements of international radiation safety standards.
The Conference made a number of recommendations with a view to ensuring the safety and security of radiation sources. They include steps related to the application and implementation of a code of conduct and an established categorization scheme for radiation sources; establishing inventories of disused sources and ensuring their safe storage; establishing strategies for education and training of regulatory staff, users, and officials, such as customs officers, who may come into contact with radiation sources; carrying out national assessments of radiation safety regulatory infrastructures; and developing national strategies for searching for and localizing "orphan" sources to bring them under proper control.