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IAEA Concludes Agreements to Boost Radiation Safety

Radiation safety and monitoring are important in the application of nuclear techniques. (Photo: D. Calma/iAEA)

The IAEA signed two cooperative agreements to strengthen radiation safety and monitoring with organisations based in Argentina and the United States last week.

Radiation safety aims to protect the public and environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation, which has many beneficial uses, including in medicine, science and industry.

"Measures to ensure that radiation safety is maintained at the highest level are vital when using nuclear applications for peaceful purposes," said Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security at the signature of the so-called Practical Arrangements in Vienna. "The collaboration with our Member States demonstrates the on-going commitment in this field."

Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security and Nestor Alejandro Masriera, President of the Argentine Board of Directors of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority sign the Practical Arrangements at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna. (Photo: R. Diaz Francia/IAEA)

The Practical Arrangements with Argentina’s Nuclear Regulatory Authority (ARN) modify a 2015 agreement on radiation safety. Under the existing framework, the IAEA and ARN are working together to develop acceptability criteria for radionuclide activity concentration in food, drinking water and non-food commodities.

This collaboration has now been extended to address the development of regulatory guidance on radiological protection in radiotherapy, addressing in particular the potential increase in the risk of secondary cancers following treatment.

"The need to keep pace with advances in technology requires adding elements to accordingly strengthen safety measures and regulations," said Nestor Alejandro Masriera, President of ARN's Board of Directors.

Sharing relevant information and expertise, developing joint publications that outline global safety standards for radiation safety, developing criteria and concrete approaches for radiation protection are among the activities agreed to. "These Arrangements are 'living instruments', a working document to ensure that Argentina continues to effectively implement internationally recognized radiation safety procedures that will benefit people," Masriera said.

This Practical Arrangements signed on 18 September 2015 and its modification on 30 September 2016 are valid for a further two years.

Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, and Ruth E. McBurney, Executive Director of United States Conference of Radiation Control Programs Directors, sign the Practical Arrangements at the IAEA headquarters in Vienna. (Photo: R. Diaz Francia/IAEA)

The IAEA also signed Practical Arrangements with the Conference of Radiation Programme Control Directors (CRCPD), a non-profit non-governmental organization in the United States dedicated to radiation protection.

This agreement covers radiation protection in medicine, especially where new radiation source technologies are used and underlines the need to ensure that any use of radiation is fully justified, to ensure adequate protection of workers and patients.

Other areas of collaboration include control of radiation exposure of workers and the public from naturally occurring radioactive material (NORM) in mining and other industries and the reduction of radon levels in homes, which is for most people the largest contributor to their radiation exposure.

The cooperation between the CRCPD and the IAEA will boost the sharing of experience and knowledge in relation to these issues.

"We need to be vigilant to make sure that national rules, regulations, policies and procedures are resilient and effectively implemented for radiation protection and safety," said Ruth E. McBurney, Executive Director of the CRCPD. "We look forward to the close interaction with the IAEA in achieving shared objectives."

This Practical Arrangements signed on 30 September is valid for a three-year period.