NNSA’s Office of Radiological Security (ORS) shared best practices and enhanced cooperation at the International Atomic Energy Agency’s International Conference on the Safety and Security of Radioactive Sources last month in Vienna.
Given the prevalence of radioactive sources for essential medical, research, and industrial applications, ORS is a global leader in advancing radiological security to prevent sources from falling into the wrong hands and make sure they are used only for peaceful purposes.
“The IAEA plays a critical role in helping us expand and enhance international cooperation on radiological security,” said Art Atkins, the head of the U.S. delegation at the conference and NNSA’s Assistant Deputy Administrator for Global Material Security, ORS’ parent office. “No one else can bring together so many of our partners in a forum to collaborate and discuss emerging issues.”
The conference attracted over 600 participants. It included some 50 panels, technical sessions, and side events on a variety of topics such as physical protection, regulatory development, cybersecurity, and insider threat mitigation. More than 20 experts from NNSA’s and DOE’s national laboratories made presentations to lend their expertise to this global dialogue.
Atkins participated in a dynamic scenario-based policy discussion that included panelists from Jamaica, Nepal, and INTERPOL. Working through a scenario about a potentially malicious act at a medical facility with radioactive sources, the panelists highlighted the implementation of good practices, the mitigation of bad practices, and the consequences of such an incident.
ORS also sponsored a side event on the Ad Hoc Working Group on Alternatives to High-Activity Radioactive Sources with its co-chairs France and Germany. Formed in 2015, this working group provides an open forum for countries to share information and experiences on the use of alternative technologies to highly radioactive sources.
“It’s imperative that governments, researchers, industry, and users work together to make alternative technologies more affordable, reliable, and easy to sustainably use,” said Kristina Hatcher, director of the ORS international program. “Ultimately we see the adoption of alternative technologies as the best way to eliminate risk – because without technologies dependent upon radioactive sources, there are no sources at risk for misuse.”