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Trainees in Latin America and the Caribbean Learn Radiation Emergency Management at IAEA School


36 participants from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries are attending the three-week capacity-building event. (Photo: L. Bueno/IRD))

During a nuclear or radiological emergency, well-trained responders must act quickly and decisively to mitigate the consequences for the public and the environment. The IAEA’s School of Radiation Emergency Management helps countries maintain responders’ readiness. At a recent School in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, 36 participants from 16 Latin American and Caribbean countries enhanced their ability to develop and implement emergency preparedness and response (EPR) arrangements for nuclear and radiological emergencies.

Since its pilot launch in 2015, more than 400 experts have studied the principles and best practices that underpin effective EPR arrangements at 12 Schools held in eight countries. From the 26 August to 13 September, the School in Rio de Janeiro was hosted by Brazil’s National Nuclear Energy Commission (CNEN).

The School features lectures, discussions on several case studies related to emergency response, practical sessions and field and table-top exercises. During the three-week School, the participants, who are emergency responders, develop specialised knowledge required to operate emergency management systems, implement protective actions and communicate with the public in nuclear and radiological emergencies. All elements of the training course are based on the relevant IAEA Safety Standards and guidelines. In Brazil, participants took part in a radiological emergency exercise based on what happened during the 1987 Goiânia radiological accident.

“This unique opportunity offered by CNEN uses lessons learned and best practices from past emergencies to help the participants implement the knowledge gained during lectures,” said Raul Dos Santos, Head of the CNEN Emergency Division, and a School lecturer.

Countries that host the School showcase their facilities and procedures to the participants during technical visits. In Brazil, the students visited the Naval Marcilio Dias Hospital, CNEN’s laboratory of radiation sources, the Almirante Álvaro Alberto Nuclear Power Plant and the Chemical, Biological, Radiological and Nuclear Defense Battalion where they learned how Brazil prepares for an emergency response. 

“Our attendance at this School reflects our commitment to strengthening EPR arrangements in Latin America and the Caribbean,” said Herman Zárate Segovia, Alternate Emergency Coordinator in the Emergencies and Nuclear Security Section of the Chilean Nuclear Energy Commission. “The lectures, exercises, technical visits and discussions with counterparts in the region have given us participants the opportunity to exchange experience with other colleagues and instructors, and I will use this new knowledge in my own organization, to complement our national EPR systems”.

Member States seeking information on the School can contact the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre.

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