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The IAEA’s Response and Assistance Network Grows to 36 Countries


In 2017, 32 participants from 13 State Parties participated in a RANET workshop held in Fukushima Prefecture, Japan. (Photo: IAEA)

Brazil is the latest country to join the Response and Assistance Network (RANET), strengthening this global network’s capacity to provide international assistance in nuclear and radiological emergencies, irrespective of their cause. Through its designated Competent Authority, the Directorate for Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety of the National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN), Brazil formalized its participation in RANET by becoming the latest Assistance Convention State Party to register National Assistance Capabilities (NACs). Following Argentina and Mexico, Brazil becomes the third South American country to join RANET.

“This only means a more robust nuclear emergency response between State Parties,” said Rodrigo Bonifácio, researcher and quality manager at CNEN’s Laboratório de Poços de Caldas (LAPOC), and NAC Coordinator for Brazil. “Brazil is in a position to support other countries because of the expertise that we have developed and acquired from participating in different international networks (including the IAEA’s ALMERA network) and based on the experience gained by our professionals, both nationally and internationally.”

RANET is an integrated network of States whose assistance capabilities help mitigate the emergencies’ actual or potential consequences to human health, the environment, and property by promptly mobilizing experts and providing equipment and materials. If a country determines that an effective response to nuclear or radiological emergencies requires resources beyond its national capacity, a request for international assistance is sent through RANET.

Brazil’s registration bolsters RANET’s National Assistance Capabilities that currently include radiation survey, radiation sampling and analysis, expertise in several measurement techniques, as well as tools such as measuring systems and radiation survey instruments. LAPOC’s laboratories also have the capability to provide analytical support in measuring the presence of radiation in food and in the environment.

By contributing, we learn, and by giving assistance, we are presented with new challenges that can expand our capabilities.
Rodrigo Bonifácio, researcher and quality manager, CNEN’s Laboratório de Poços de Caldas (LAPOC), Brazil NAC Coordinator

RANET assistance capabilities

Like Brazil, all State Parties to the Assistance Convention can register a wide range of assistance capabilities, categorized into the following eight areas:

(Image: K. Vargas /IAEA)

Any State in the network can update their capabilities any time and, when required, can request these assistance capabilities. When a request arrives, the IAEA swiftly coordinates between the requesting and the assisting States an assistance agreement that addresses the specific needs of the requesting State.

RANET assistance was successfully coordinated and delivered recently in September 2020, when Lebanon sought assistance from the IAEA, following the explosion in Beirut’s port. In this assistance mission, Danish, French and IAEA experts conducted radiation surveys and analysis under pandemic conditions and confirmed that no hazard was presented by materials containing naturally occurring radionuclides stored at the port. French and Swiss laboratories analyzed samples collected by the Lebanese experts and confirmed that they did not contain elevated radiation levels. The Assistance Mission also provided expert recommendations and training of local authorities to promote nuclear safety and security in the country.

A global network with a regional strategy

“The ready availability of assistance capabilities in each region is key to ensuring timely delivery and effective response in an emergency,” said Kilian Smith, IAEA RANET Officer. “We want to achieve a broad deployment of expertise and capabilities around the world.” Communication and assistance delivery are accelerated when the requesting and assisting States lie in close proximity to each other, he added.

Brazil, for example, is an invaluable resource for RANET because it could provide timely assistance to its neighbors in Latin America. “At the regional level, Brazil has been asked to provide support regarding regulatory and radiological security,” Bonifácio said about their international track record.

What’s in it for State Parties

The Member States that offer assistance also benefit. These offers help Member States identify areas in their response capacities that can be strengthened. Bonifácio summarized the benefit Brazil derives from its RANET membership: “By contributing, we learn, and by giving assistance, we are presented with new challenges that can expand our capabilities.” He also added that, by joining RANET, “we can show that we have a good grasp of knowledge in nuclear power. We want this field to be more acceptable among our stakeholders; joining RANET is one of the rare opportunities we have to show them our expertise in this area.”

36 Strong and growing

Since its establishment in 2000, the assistance network has expanded to 36 State Parties: Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belarus, Belgium, Brazil, Bulgaria, Canada, China, Czech Republic, Denmark, Egypt, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, India, Ireland, Israel, Japan, the Republic of Korea, Mexico, Nigeria, Norway, Pakistan, Romania, the Russian Federation, Slovenia, Spain, Sri Lanka, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey, Ukraine, United Kingdom and the United States of America.

More information about RANET can be found on the IAEA website and through this EPR-RANET publication.

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