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IAEA Announces Concept of Qualified Technical Centres for the Management of Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources


Participants at the 61st IAEA General Conference trying their skills in safe handling of disused sealed radioactive sources (with mock objects), 19 September 2017. (Photo: A. Evrensel/IAEA)

In an effort to scale up the safe and secure management of disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS), the IAEA today introduced a new concept of Qualified Technical Centres.

“At the IAEA we receive a large number of requests for assistance in characterization, conditioning and removal of all categories of DSRS,” said Christophe Xerri, Director of the IAEA Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology, at an event organized on the side lines of the IAEA’s 61st General Conference.

“The idea behind this initiative is to increase the worldwide capability to manage DSRS by encouraging countries with well-equipped centres and trained personnel to provide technical services for the management of DSRS, within their countries and regionally.”

The process for defining the technical and human resources requirements necessary to qualify as these centres of reference is ongoing.

The IAEA regularly dispatches expert missions to Member States to provide advice and guidance for the recovery and conditioning of DSRS. The most recent missions include recovery and conditioning of DSRS in Honduras in July, in Ghana in August and in Malaysia in September 2017. These missions complement IAEA’s capacity building activities, such as projects for managing radioactive sources from cradle to grave, implemented through the Agency’s technical cooperation programme.

During the event, experts from several Member States highlighted recent projects and activities related to DSRS management. Participants learned details of a South American Source Removal Project, with 29 sources to be removed from five countries. The event also included presentations on national regulatory infrastructure for inventories of radioactive sources and progress made on the integration of mobile hot cell with borehole disposal system.

“The South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) has provided experienced technical support to the IAEA over many years with several mobile hot cell and other source recovery missions,” said Cheryl Akortia, Acting Senior Manager of the company. “South Africa is committed to continue this collaborative work on new projects.”

The idea is to increase the worldwide capability to manage DSRS.
Christophe Xerri, Director, IAEA Division of Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology


Most of radioactive waste arising from nuclear applications consists of disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS). Radioactive sources are used in different devices in medical, industrial and agricultural facilities. They have to be accounted for and when they are no longer usable, they have to be recovered, dismantled, stored and, as the case may be, prepared for transportation. Therefore, countries with or without nuclear power programmes have to make sure they have the ability to properly manage them. The IAEA is supporting capacity building in both regulatory framework and operation and can support removal operations. The IAEA is also developing tools (mobile tool kits, mobile hot cells, transport packages) and supporting the strengthening of regional capabilities.

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