ISTC African projects presented at IAEA conference on safety and security of radioactive sources

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ISTC participated in the International Conference on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources: Accomplishments and Future Endeavours, convened by the IAEA and the Weapons Threat Reduction Program of Global Affairs Canada, from 20 to 24 June 2022 in Vienna. The event brought together more than 600 senior government officials, and representatives from organizations involved in the safety and security of sources.

At the opening, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi reminded that “radioactive sources … offer immense societal and economic benefits, but they may also pose a risk” and require proper management.

ISTC took part in the Panel Session 4, dedicated to the collaboration and cooperation at the national, regional and international level. Panelists from the US, Columbia, Sweden, South Africa, Tajikistan and several transnational organizations underlined that international co-operation is a key factor in ensuring the safety and security of radioactive sources at a high level. This includes advice on the management and protection of the sources and on the development, harmonization and implementation of national policies and normative frameworks, as well as on cooperation among countries.

ISTC recently implemented several successful projects in Africa, through which the European Union supported various African–led initiatives. The experience shared at the conference was based on findings from the EU Project: Support to Southern African States in Nuclear Safety and Safeguards. The results from this project illustrate in a convincing manner how external support may be aligned to the African aspirations and may foster regional approaches in Southern Africa through the SADC Nuclear Regulators’ Network, the specialized cooperative mechanism, and its Regional Action Plan, which deserves external support and recognition.

The panel discussed synergies among competent authorities and other relevant stakeholders to ensure sustainability and effectiveness of national infrastructures. A survey during the SADC Project indicated that all countries from the region intent to follow the Code of Conduct on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources, and even more importantly the Code’s supplementary Guidance on the import and export, and on the management of disused sources.

The conference examined the impact of technological advances and preparation and response to radiological incidents and emergencies involving radioactive sources. Many participants pointed out that continuous oversight is crucial in preventing the accidental or intentional misuse of radioactive sources. The shared challenge concerning radioactive sources motivate the synchronization of regulations and policies in Southern Africa as elsewhere.

This conference proved to be a successful international forum for experts to share their experience and achievements, learn about the latest developments in the field of safety and security of radioactive sources, and broaden their network.