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IAEA Organizes Interregional Training Course on Safety Assessments for Waste Management

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An IAEA expert delivers a presentation to the training course participants in Windhoek, Namibia. (Photo: D.G. Bennett/IAEA)

Safety assessments are systematic analyses of the hazards associated with radiation conducted to ensure the protection of workers, the public and the environment. They are used to identify the need to implement new, or to improve upon existing, safety measures. Safety assessments are a necessary precondition for the safe management of radioactive sources and waste—reflecting their necessity, the IAEA recently organized an interregional training course in Windhoek, Namibia on how best to conduct safety assessments for radioactive waste management facilities. Held in June, the training course was hosted by the Government of Namibia through its Ministry of Health and Social Services and through the Atomic Energy & Radiation Protection Authority.

Organized as part of an ongoing, interregional technical cooperation (TC) project[1], the training course was designed to help Member States enhance their capacities in the management of radioactive sources, and to ensure that the safety of radioactive waste management facilities is regularly assessed and regulated according to international standards and best practices.

Sealed radioactive sources are used all over the world, including in the healthcare, research and agricultural industries. To ensure that they are deployed safely and securely, these sources must be carefully managed, both while in-use and after they reach the end of their useful lives and become disused. Disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS) that cannot be recycled should be declared radioactive waste and managed accordingly.

Participants of the cradle-to-grave radioactive waste management training course. (Photo: D.G. Bennett)

“What can go wrong? How likely is it to happen? And if it does, what are the consequences? A safety assessment can provide answers to these questions, among others,” said Rodolfo Avila, an international expert who helped to lead the training course. “Safety assessments consider all aspects of an activity which are relevant to protection and safety, including the siting, design and operation of a facility.”

The purpose of the capacity building event was to provide training to national staff responsible for assessing the safety of predisposal and disposal facilities. With the support and guidance of IAEA experts, trainees were reintroduced to the fundamentals of the IAEA Safety Standards and the IAEA requirements for radiological protection and radioactive waste management. With the cornerstones of radiation and waste management safety established, the course participants familiarized themselves with certain safety assessment software, including SAFRAN, Microshield and EcoLego.

By studying models and IAEA guidance related to safety assessments at all stages of waste management—from pre-disposal to the post-closure phase of a disposal facility—and by conducting hands-on exercises with modelling tools, the training course better prepared its participants to conduct effective safety assessments for radioactive waste management facilities, particularly those which manage DSRS.

The training course was attended by 39 participants from 22 IAEA Member States, including Albania, Argentina, Croatia, Ethiopia, Georgia, Ghana, Indonesia, Jordan, Libya, Malaysia, Morocco, Namibia, Nigeria, Philippines, Serbia, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and the United Republic of Tanzania.

EUCommission Project INT9182 is conducted by the IAEA, with co-funding from the European Commission, Spain and the United States of America

 

[1] INT9182, ‘Sustaining Cradle-to-Grave Control of Radioactive Sources’

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