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Spanish-Language E-Learning Launched at General Conference to Support Research Reactors’ Strategic Planning


Director General Grossi addresses the RIALC side event at the 67th IAEA General Conference. (Photo: D.Calma/IAEA)

A new e-learning course on ‘Strategic Planning for National Nuclear Institutions’ was launched this week at a side event to the IAEA’s 67th General Conference. The side event brought together representatives of the IAEA-supported Regional Network of Research Reactors and Related Institutions in Latin America and the Caribbean (RIALC) to present the first activities of RIALC, which included recent workshops and technical visits. 

“Our goal is to coordinate our efforts effectively to ensure the efficient and safe operation of these reactors, meeting the needs of our Member States,” Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi said at the side event’s opening." This coordination is not only essential, but also fulfils extremely useful functions. It allows for more effective working axes of cooperation, both within regions and subregions, contributing to the growth of our capacities,” he added, noting that the region was particularly attuned to the comparative advantages of cooperation. The Spanish-language e-learning is targeted at research reactor staff in Latin America and the Caribbean and reflects the situation in the region. It includes two in-depth case studies provided by experts from Argentina and Chile.  

The course focuses on how to prioritize competing demands for research reactor services to ensure the efficiency, self-sufficiency and sustainability of research reactors. As an example, side event participants heard how Peru hosted a discussion on harnessing industrial applications for the region’s economic development with mining institutions and RIALC representatives from Chile, Colombia and Peru. Through a technique known as ‘geochronology’, scientists at research reactors can determine the date and geological era of mineral samples. This knowledge can be used by the mining industry to help ascertain the location of valuable minerals.  

The e-learning course is based upon the IAEA publication ‘Strategic Planning for Research Reactors’ that was developed in 2017. The IAEA has a long history of supporting the strategic planning of research reactors and has provided expert feedback on 94 strategic plans from 63 different reactors since 2014.

“Working together is more beneficial than working unilaterally. The RIALC network will benefit the Latin American region by identifying and harnessing useful synergies,” said Mario César Mallaupoma Gutiérrez, RIALC Coordinator and President of the Peruvian Institute of Nuclear Energy (IPEN).  

Members of the RIALC network share their experiences at the dedicated side event. (Photo: D.Calma/IAEA) 

Research reactors are scientific facilities that are instrumental for research, training, and a variety of industry applications, including the production of radioisotopes for use in industry, medicine, agriculture and forensics, among others. Following its launch in March 2023, RIALC conducted a regional survey to identify needs for the varied services and products of research reactors at the national and regional levels. Based on an analysis of the survey results, RIALC identified key priorities and set a strategic plan for future activities.   

"The link with the RIALC Network is an important step in the direction of regional cooperation. This network supports the mobility of professionals and offers an attractive platform for universities, further strengthening collaborative ties in nuclear sciences,” said Luis Huerta, President of the Chilean Commission of Nuclear Energy.

The nine members of RIALC have 16 operational research reactors, each of which has a series of specialties and capabilities. By bringing the expertise of these reactors together, activities can be optimized at the regional level, with reactors focusing on services in a way that is best suited to addressing national and regional needs. Intercomparison activities are already taking place to ensure harmonization of future efforts. 

Through South-South cooperation, countries participating in RIALC will also provide regional training workshops and host scientific experts from neighbouring countries. At the General Conference, the representative from Chile reported that the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission (CCHEN) hosted technical experts from Peru to discuss their experiences in neutron activation analysis – a type of non-destructive testing. RIALC is facilitating valuable connections among research reactors in the region, so that they can benefit from each other’s expertise. 

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