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Strengthening Radiation Safety Infrastructure in Latin America and the Caribbean: Concrete Project Activities to Begin in 2020


Ronald Pacheco, Head of the IAEA’s Control of Radiation Sources Unit, during the discussion of regulatory challenges faced in the region by Member States. (Photo: IAEA)

Under an ongoing regional TC project[1], representatives of 15 Member State regulatory bodies in Latin America and the Caribbean and the Ibero-American Forum of Radiological and Nuclear Regulatory Agencies (FORO) met from 2 to 6 December in Montevideo, Uruguay, to identify and explore challenges they face in the execution of their responsibilities—from insufficient human resources to the implementation of new standards and procedures—in order to design more effective actions through the IAEA’s technical cooperation (TC) programme.

The uses of radiation sources in facilities and activities must be subject to the highest radiation and nuclear safety standards. Regulating safety is a national responsibility, but the IAEA works closely with its Member States to support the establishment of effective, independent, sustainable and appropriately-resourced national regulatory bodies.

Member State regulators attending the December meeting had an opportunity to identify and discuss regulatory challenges, both new and persisting. Each Member State provided an overview of their regulatory status, including specific details concerning the organizational structure of their regulatory body, the laws and regulations approved or under development, the human and financial resources available to carry out the established responsibilities, as well as the processes followed for the evaluation and authorization of facilities and activities.

“The progress achieved in the region in recent years has been significant: We can now say that all participating countries in the project have established a functional national regulatory body, albeit with different levels of development,” said Ronald Pacheco, Head of the IAEA’s Control of Radiation Sources Unit and Technical Officer of the newly-launched project.

Following the counterpart presentations , and after subsequent fruitful group discussions, the 15 meeting participants were able to identify the common, enduring challenges faced by their national regulatory bodies and to consider proposed regional actions to address persisting regulatory needs. These challenges included, among others, the introduction of new technologies, staff management and a need to strengthen integrated management systems for core regulatory functions.

The meeting was attended by 15 representatives of national regulatory bodies in Latin America and the Caribbean. (Photo: IAEA)

The findings of the meeting have been translated into concrete project activities which will be implemented in the 2020–2021 technical cooperation cycle through a newly-approved regional project[2]. These activities will focus on establishing and enhancing human capacities in regulatory bodies, as well as strengthening processes and procedures to control radiation sources used in medicine, industry and research, following a graded approach.

 The new technical cooperation project will provide a framework for the delivery of ongoing and continuous assistance to Member States in the area of radiation safety. While the December meeting focused on challenges faced in national regulatory bodies, the new project will also address matters related to public and environmental radiation protection, emergency preparedness and response (EPR), education and training in radiation protection, and transport safety.

“Representatives from the regulatory bodies participating in the meeting recognized the important contribution of the IAEA in the establishment of an effective regulatory programme and urged the Agency to continue providing technical cooperation assistance to face current challenges,” said Alba Guillen, Designated Team Member of the regional project from Cuba.

[1] RLA9084, ‘Strengthening the Regulatory and Radiation Safety Infrastructure’

[2] RLA9086, 'Strengthening Radiation Safety Infrastructure' 

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