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Two Decades of Regulatory Cooperation to Strengthen Safety: Ibero-American Forum Turns 20

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Participants, inlcuding IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano, celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Ibero-American Forum of Radiological and Nuclear Regulatory Agencies (FORO) on the sidelines of the IAEA General Conference in September 2017. (Photo: D. Calma/IAEA) 

For 20 years, regulatory agencies in 10 countries in the Ibero-American region have worked to help each other strengthen the region’s nuclear and radiation safety.

The Ibero-American Forum of Radiological and Nuclear Regulatory Agencies (FORO), fosters the exchange of information and good practices among its member countries, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Cuba, Mexico, Paraguay, Peru, Spain and Uruguay. The Forum also offers technical programmes in 14 key safety areas such as radiation protection, emergency preparedness and response, control of radiation sources, and nuclear safety.

The Forum’s achievements were highlighted at an event to mark its 20th anniversary, held on the sidelines of the IAEA General Conference.

“For 20 years, FORO has enhanced nuclear and radiological safety and security in the Ibero‑American region,” said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. “The IAEA is the global forum for cooperation in nuclear safety and security. FORO performs a similar role in its region and has been a valuable and reliable partner for the Agency. I encourage FORO to continue its work.”

Juan Carlos Lentijo, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department for Nuclear Safety and Security, said FORO’s cooperation with the IAEA was “crucial for capacity building in nuclear, radiation, transport and waste safety and in emergency preparedness and response.”

From radiation protection to nuclear safety and security

Speakers at the event also discussed radiation protection and nuclear safety and security from a regional perspective, identifying radiation protection in medicine as a key challenge for the region. Safety considerations of radiation protection in medicine include optimization and justification in medical exposure; safe use of advanced radiotherapeutic technologies and procedures; safety in medical use of ionizing radiation; and radiation protection of medical staff and patients, when ionizing radiation is used for diagnosis, intervention, therapy or research. In this regard, FORO President Paulo Pertusi stated that “the price of safety is eternal vigilance. FORO has an important role to play.”

These topics will be also discussed in the upcoming IAEA International Conference on Radiation Protection in Medicine: Achieving Change in Practice that will be held in Vienna in December 2017.

Since its foundation in 1997, FORO has cooperated with the IAEA with the goal of achieving a high and sustainable level of radiation and nuclear safety and security. The cooperation was strengthened with the establishment of an IAEA technical programme in 2003 and formalized by means of Practical Arrangements signed in 2010 and renewed in 2017.

To date, FORO and the IAEA have completed more than 10 technical projects, with five underway. Areas of cooperation include capacity development of regulatory body staff dealing with radiation protection in medical and industrial applications; expanding the application of a safety culture assessment methodology to industrial radiography; the application of a risk matrix methodology and software tool for radiotherapy risk evaluation to new radiotherapy techniques. The most recent project aims to standardize the inspection process for nuclear research reactors.

The cooperation has resulted in five joint technical documents, three of which are available in English.

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