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Dijon, France, 14-18 September 1998

IAEA Conference on "Safety of Radiation Sources and Security of Radioactive Materials"


The Conference was organized by the IAEA and cosponsored by the European Commission (EC), the International Criminal Police Organization (INTERPOL), and the World Customs Organization (WCO), and the French Atomic Energy Commission CEA/DAM. It was the first Conference devoted to the safety of radiation sources and the security of radioactive materials. It consisted of an opening session which included addresses by the Conference President and the Representatives of the Cosponsoring Organization, two briefing sessions with nine keynote addresses, ten technical sessions, one round table and a concluding session, in which the summaries of chairpersons and the major findings of the Conference were presented. The Conference was attended by over 200 participants, mainly radiation safety experts, regulators, customs and other law enforcement officers from 80 Member States.

The two briefing sessions covered the size of the problem, a review of accidents with radiation sources, international standards, the Agency’s Model Project for Upgrading Radiation Protection Infrastructure, the IAEA program to combat illicit trafficking including the Draft Safety Guide, and the activities of the cosponsoring organization in the safety of radiation sources and security of radioactive materials.

The ten technical sessions reviewed the state of the art of twelve major topics divided in two groups:

  • The safety of radiation sources - regulatory control, safety assessment techniques, engineering and managerial measures, lessons from experience, international co-operation through reporting systems and databases, verification of safety through inspection and the use of performance indicators for a regulatory program
  • The security of radioactive materials - measures to prevent breaches in the security of radioactive materials, detection and identification techniques for illicit trafficking, response to detected cases and seized radioactive materials, strengthening awareness, training and exchange of information

In addition, the technical sessions included the summaries of the 85 contributed papers. A round table on "International Co-ordination in Security" discussed the present activities of IAEA, EU, WCO, INTERPOL, USNRC, US DOD/FBI, DOE and US Customs. Recommendations were formulated to enhance close co-ordination and co-operation in these activities.

In the concluding session, the summaries of chairpersons and the major findings of the Conference were presented. The IAEA TECDOC-1045 with the contributed papers was distributed to all participants at the registration. The proceedings with the introductory presentations, the keynote addresses, the rapporteurs’ overviews of the twelve technical topics, the summaries of the chairpersons of each session, as well as the findings of the Conference will be published within the next months including TECDOC-1045 on CD ROM.

The Conference was a success in fostering information exchange through the reviews of the state of the art and the frank and open discussions. It raised awareness of the need for Member States to ensure effective systems of control and for preventing, detecting and responding to illicit trafficking in radioactive materials.

With regard to safety, the major problems are related to human errors, caused by insufficient training, insufficient commitment by managers, lack of procedures and lack of supervision of compliance with procedures. In developing countries, these factors are aggravated by: problems of import and use of radiation sources without an effective maintenance and the lack of expertise of regulatory authorities in the safety of the imported equipment, as well as by lack of resources and commitment and even discontinuities by governmental changes.

Concerning the security of radioactive materials this conference, for the first time, brought radiation safety experts, regulators, customs and police officers together, who need to closely co-operate for solving the problem of illicit trafficking. Particular attention was given to the problem of "orphan" sources ending up in the public domain.

The Conference finished by recommending investigating whether international undertakings concerned with an effective operation of national systems for ensuring the safety of radiation sources and the security of radioactive materials and attracting broad adherence could be formulated. These recommendations were essentially adopted as a resolution of the Forty-second General Conference of the IAEA in September 1998. findings

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| Last update: Tuesday, 09 December, 2014.