IAEA’s sealed sources management review service completes first mission

August 11, 2023, 9:30AMNuclear News
A new IAEA peer review service demonstrates the proper management of disused sealed radioactive sources. (Photos: IAEA [left] and TINT [right])

The International Atomic Energy Agency has carried out the first mission of its Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources Technical Centre peer review service, or DSRS TeC, at the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT) in Bangkok. Held July 18–21, the inaugural mission was supported by funds from the United States.

The new peer review service aims to enlarge the global pool of resources and support for countries in the sustainable management of DSRS, a key component in thousands of devices used worldwide in industry, medicine, and agriculture.

“Practical hands-on demonstrations of the DSRS management operations are a main component of the new mission, which also includes a review of procedures and work instructions, facilities, tools, and equipment,” said Nora Zakaria, head of the IAEA’s Waste Technology Section.

The need: Thousands of different models of gauges, devices, and machines containing radioactive sources exist in the world, and sometimes the information for a device or source is missing. If a device is damaged or corroded, there also may be a risk of contamination. Experts need to have a deep knowledge of DSRS, as well as experience working with radioactive sources, to be able to remove, characterize, and correctly package them.

The review: According to the IAEA, TINT built a dedicated DSRS storage facility in 2013 that operated under a strict quality management system. In 2020, TINT redesigned its inventory system. Following its peer review, the IAEA team concluded that TINT’s system is comprehensive, providing source details and allowing full tracking of a source’s origin, condition, and location in the facility.

“TINT has reached an impressive level of accomplishment, and its capacities and capabilities continue to expand,” said Zakaria, who served as the IAEA’s lead on the TINT mission. “TINT has absorbed the know-how and the experience of the various technical assistance missions rendered by the IAEA and greatly improved the management of DSRS.”

The team: The DSRS TeC review team in Bangkok consisted of four experts from the Philippines and Serbia, along with two IAEA staff members. While led by IAEA experts, the agency said that the review program encourages not only organizations with well-equipped facilities and personnel to sign up to provide DSRS technical expertise, but also organizations wishing to strengthen existing capacity.

Morocco’s National Centre for Energy and Nuclear Science and Technology hosted a pilot DSRS TeC mission in May 2022, and the IAEA officially launched the peer review service during the 66th IAEA General Conference in September 2022.

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