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Find, Seek and Secure: IAEA supports Caribbean Member States in the Handling of Orphan Sources


Participants at the ‘Orphan Source Search’ training course, 27-31 August 2018. (Photo: L. Manzanares/Los Alamos National Laboratory)

Across the globe, radioactive sources are routinely used by medical, industrial, and agricultural experts to meet fundamental human needs for clean water, accessible energy, and nutritious food. However, due to the potential harm that can be caused by ionizing radiation, strict control over radioactive sources must be exercised to ensure that they are appropriately handled throughout their lifecycle. If sources are lost, abandoned, stolen or transferred without the appropriate authorization, they can become orphan sources, posing serious risks to both people and to the environment. Experts and Member State counterparts gathered at the Southwest Research Institute (SwRI) in San Antonio, Texas, to consider how best to address the challenge of orphan sources during an Agency-organized training course for Caribbean Member States under a regional IAEA technical cooperation project[1].

Held from 27-31 August, the capacity building event, titled ‘Orphan Source Search’, comprised several lectures and a practical field day. Designed to provide its participants with a strong foundation in the management of radioactive sources, the lectures covered a broad variety of topics, from basic radiation protection and source transportation to the elaboration of national strategies for regaining control over orphan sources.   

Radiological safety and security experts from seven IAEA Member States participated in the event:  Bahamas, Barbados, Dominica, Guyana, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago. The course participants are expected to share and disseminate the lessons that they learned during the course in their respective countries. This will support better national control of radioactive sources.

The course was very positively received by the participating experts and delegates. Visiting lecturer Mr Leonard F. Manzanares of Los Alamos National Laboratory noted the enthusiasm of the participants: “They did well. They were really excited about this exercise and since they had never done anything like this before, it was found to be a valuable experience for them.”


[1] RLA9081, ‘Strengthening Cradle-to-Grave Control of Radioactive Sources’.


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