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IAEA Helps Panama Strengthen Occupational Radiation Protection

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ORPAS team visiting the production plant of sterile fly of screwworm. (Photo: R. C. Suarez/IAEA)

Panama recently became the 10th Latin American country to host an IAEA Occupational Radiation Protection Appraisal Service (ORPAS), underlining its commitment toward ensuring the safety of workers exposed to radiation as part of their jobs.

A six-member IAEA-led ORPAS team spent 5 to 9 February 2018 in Panama, assessing occupational radiation protection at industrial and medical facilities as well as technical and scientific support organizations against recommendations in IAEA safety standards. Facilities visited included the country’s cyclotron, which provides radiopharmaceuticals to Costa Rica, Cuba and other countries in the region.

The team, which comprised experts from Costa Rica, Chile, Spain, Argentina and Cuba as well as one IAEA staff member, provided Panama’s Regulatory Authority with a report that contains recommendations and suggestions for strengthening radiation protection of workers. These include promoting safety culture, implementing adequate management systems and using a graded approach during safety assessments of facilities and activities.

“The ORPAS helped us to identify weaknesses and priorities for planning and oversight actions,” said Nadja Benson, Head of the Radiological Health Department at the Regulatory Authority in Panama.  “We will now be able to make improvements to our processes and strengthen regulatory and governance actions in the health and industrial sector.”

Miroslav Pinak, Head of the IAEA's Radiation Safety and Monitoring Section, said Panama’s request to host an ORPAS “showed a responsible approach to occupational radiation protection”.

ORPAS team measuring the airflow and verifying the ventilation system at the cyclotron facility. (Photo: R. C. Suarez/IAEA)

The IAEA created the ORPAS programme more than 10 years ago to assist countries in strengthening occupational radiation protection programmes.

Nicaragua, the Dominican Republic and Indonesia are set to host ORPAS missions in 2018.

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