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Improving Radioactive Material Transport in Africa

IAEA Training Highlights Safety and Security

Improving Radioactive Material Transport in Africa

The IAEA is working with African Member States to reform the transport infrastructure, particularly as it relates to the safe transport of radioactive materials. (Photo: R. Quevenco/IAEA)

An IAEA regional training course on the security of radioactive materials during transport, highlighting problems and effective security measures, takes place in Dakar, Senegal, 9 to 11 November 2009.

Organized by the IAEA in cooperation with the Government of Senegal, the training course is intended for participants coming from French-speaking Member States of the IAEA-supported African Regional Cooperative Agreement (AFRA).

The participants will represent operating or regulatory agencies, government departments with responsibilities related to the transport of radioactive material, and the shipping industry. They will learn about and apply new measures and technologies in a series of lectures and workshops.

Radioactive material transport is a matter of particular interest to Member States, according to Ms. Ann-Margreth Eriksson Eklund, a senior nuclear security officer at the IAEA. "Transport of radioactive material has so far focused on safety. In recent years a need has emerged to also look at security issues for radioactive material. The Agency recently published a Nuclear Security Series Document No. 9 Security of Radioactive Material in Transport. The training course complements this publication and the intention is, based on this guide, to give training to Member States on all continents," she said.

Mr. Natanael De Carvalho Bruno, from the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, hopes that a more organised approach will yield long-term benefits. "The IAEA expects the government to train the industry but that does not happen so easily. The IAEA can provide Member States with the training they need, but the ´Train the Trainer´ policy could be revisited allowing, for example, the participation of the end users in our training courses," he said.

The rising threat of terrorism and sabotage makes transport a particularly vulnerable part of the nuclear and radioactive material supply chain. Improved national regulations will encourage transparency, enhance security, and make denials of shipments less frequent.

Ms. Eriksson Eklund stated that the Agency will have a long-term involvement in reforming the transport infrastructure in African Member States. "It´s a long procedure. We are offering Member States assistance in writing and developing regulations and upgrading their transport systems," she said.

Background

The World Nuclear Association (WNA) estimates that, worldwide, about twenty million consignments of radioactive materials are transported annually on public roads, railways and ships.

The increased use of radioactive substances in industry and medicine highlights the importance of transport as part of the supply chain with movement of these materials becoming more frequent and larger in volume.

The transportation of radioactive materials and radioactive wastes involves a potential radiological hazard. To ensure the safety of people, property and the environment, appropriate transport regulations, both domestic and international, are necessary.

Through an extensive training programme, the IAEA facilitates the implementation of the domestic regulations in Member States, so that their principles are in compliance with IAEA regulations for the safe transport of radioactive materials.

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