For fifteen years, countries in the Ibero-American region have worked together to strengthen radiation protection for patients, to improve safety at radiation installations, to tighten controls on radioactive sources used in medicine, agriculture and industry and to improve safety and security at nuclear power plants through a regional network of radiological and nuclear safety regulators. The Ibero-American Forum of Radiological and Nuclear Regulatory Agencies, or FORO, aims to strengthen the regulatory organizations in its member countries through the exchange of information and experience, and through offering technical programmes in key safety areas.
IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has described FORO as an initiative that "has undoubtedly helped to improve nuclear safety and security in the countries concerned."
FORO's eight members - Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Mexico, Peru, Spain and Uruguay - celebrated this fifteen-year milestone in July 2012 in Cuba, where they were joined by fourteen other countries from the Ibero-American region, as well as the Pan American Health Organization and the IAEA.
Denis Flory, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department for Nuclear Safety and Security, praised the network's cooperation with the Agency, saying it was beneficial for both groups. The cooperation has resulted in joint technical documents, networking and information exchange. One IAEA-FORO joint publication has been issued by the Agency and two additional publications are being produced. "New projects have been recently launched in the areas of emergency preparedness and response, safety culture in the use of radiation sources, and the development of a training programme for regulatory staff on nuclear reactor safety," said Flory. He added that the completion of stress tests on nuclear power plants in the region was "an extraordinary record achieved through mutual cooperation."
Since its foundation in 1997, the FORO and the Agency have cooperated in areas of mutual interest aiming at achieving a high level of radiation and nuclear safety and security in a sustainable manner. This cooperation was strengthened with the establishment of a technical programme administrated by the Agency in 2003 and formalized by means of Practical Arrangements signed in 2010.
FORO and the IAEA work together on the safety considerations of extending nuclear power plants' operational lifetimes, risk analysis in radiotherapy, patient protection and the control of radioactive sources in scrap metal. In addition, the Agency supports the Forum by disseminating information in workshops, conferences and technical meetings. By identifying and prioritizing national and regional issues and needs and finding solution, the Forum adds to the global function of the IAEA.
More achievements can be expected. An updated Website is set to enable cooperation with other countries in the region, and discussions have started on establishing a school of nuclear and radiation safety and security, as well as a system to record and disseminate the lessons learned and good practices from radiation protection and nuclear safety projects within the region.
The IAEA supports international knowledge networks and forums such as the Global Nuclear Safety and Security Network (GNSSN) and regional networks such as the Asian Nuclear Safety Network (ANSN), European TSO Network (ETSON), the Ibero-American Forum of Radiological and Nuclear Regulatory Agencies (FORO), the Forum of Nuclear Regulatory Bodies in Africa (FNRBA), the Arab Network of Nuclear Regulators (ANNuR) and the Regulatory Cooperation Forum (RCF).
For more information see http://www.foroiberam.org/ (Spanish).