The management of disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS)—including characterization, packaging, removal and other aspects—is a service much in demand. In an effort to support countries faced with limited resources and capacities for DSRS management, the IAEA launched a new peer review service today at a side event during the 66th IAEA General Conference.
The Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources Technical Centre peer review, or DSRS TeC, aims to increase and enlarge the accessible pool of resources and support for sustainable management of DSRS. Countries and organizations with well-equipped facilities and trained personnel that can provide technical services in their home country and abroad are encouraged to enrol in the new peer review service.
Participants at the event heard that the DSRS TeC will review the technical proficiencies, operational processes, quality management and capabilities of a facility to operate at regional level and beyond. By building on national capabilities, it is hoped that support for sustainable management of DSRS will be scaled-up and at the same time strengthen the existing capacity of the countries.
“Sealed radioactive sources have been used widely in industry, medicine and research in Member States for many decades,” said Mikhail Chudakov, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Energy, who opened the event. “The DSRS TeC peer review mission will assess the capabilities of organizations in the DSRS management technical area of Member States.”
There are thousands of different models of gauges and equipment containing radioactive sources, and sometimes the information or documentation for a device or source is missing. Additionally, devices that are damaged or corroded lead to a contamination risk. Handling each one correctly takes knowledge and skills gained from regular, hands-on experience. This is where the new IAEA peer review service provides value. A network of DSRS Technical Centres could provide DSRS services both in their own country and abroad, thereby increasing global capacity for DSRS management.
“Currently, we receive many requests for support and guidance on DSRS and regularly send teams on field missions to recover and condition them. But the sheer number of DSRS in the world means our services are over stretched,” said Nora Zakaria of the IAEA’s Waste Technology Section. “This new peer review service will help us to increase support for countries by leveraging the expertise of Technical Centres,” she told attendees at the event.
Like other IAEA-led peer review services, DSRS TeC will comprise a team made up of IAEA and external experts. Event participants were informed of a pilot mission carried out in May 2022 at Morocco’s National Centre for Energy and Nuclear Science and Technology (CNESTEN). The principal findings from the mission were presented by Bouzekri Nacir, Director of nuclear facilities at CNESTEN.
“CNESTEN has excellent track records in providing trainings in DSRS management at regional and international level and continue to strengthen our high level of competencies, capacity and capability through this review,” Nacir said. “CNESTEN is ready to provide continued support at the regional level.”