The Office of Atoms for Peace (OAP) and the World Institute for Nuclear Security (WINS) held a Regional Training Course on Radioactive Source Security Management in Bangkok, Thailand, from 30 October to 2 November 2018.
Hospitals, research facilities and industry routinely use radioactive sources to diagnose and treat illnesses, sterilise equipment and inspect welds. In countries with mature regulatory structures, the use of radioactive sources is highly regulated from a safety perspective. Licensees (authorised users) readily accept such regulations because they are aware of the potential consequences should a safety incident compromise the health, safety and environment of their employees and surrounding communities.
In contrast, a comparable security culture has been much slower to evolve, largely because many States, regulatory authorities and licensees have been slow to appreciate how people with malevolent intentions could use radioactive sources. Unfortunately, even when a security programme does exist for protecting radioactive sources from malicious intent, it can be poorly implemented. Reasons for this could include a fundamental lack of awareness among leadership about the issues, lack of knowledge about how to implement a security programme that does not impede business operations, or lack of knowledge about how to provide effective security at a reasonable cost.
This in-person training course was based on the WINS Academy Module titled Radioactive Source Security Management. Its purpose was to give participants the opportunity to review and discuss the key elements of the module and to explore areas of importance to them in further detail. The course helped participants develop a fundamental understanding of security; it also helped to increase radioactive source security in the Asia-Pacific region through the development of knowledge, skills and cooperative relationships among regional stakeholders. The training offered a broad professional development opportunity that included becoming a WINS Academy Certified Nuclear Security Professional (CNSP).
The audience for the course consisted of individuals from Thailand, Cambodia, Laos and Myanmar with responsibilities for:
- Developing and enforcing regulations governing the security of radioactive sources
- Implementing regulations
- Developing radioactive source security policies, programmes and plans
- Transporting radioactive sources
- Responding to radiological emergencies
- Maintaining devices containing radioactive sources and managing the end of their lifecycle
- Representatives of academic institutions and relevant professional associations
WINS staff delivered the training in conjunction with international and regional subject matter experts using short lectures, case studies, interactive exercises and discussions. Electronic voting was used to poll participants’ opinions and further explore subjects of common interest. The course was conducted in English and drew only on unclassified information. Prior to the training, participants were given access to the WINS Academy Certification programme on Radioactive Source Security Management. The certification package included:
- Access to the online Radioactive Source Security Management Module
- Access to the online Foundation Module
- A hardcopy of the Radioactive Source Security Management textbook
- A hardcopy of the Foundation Module textbook
- A voucher for the Radioactive Source Security Management module certification exam
- A voucher for the Foundation Module certification exam
Participants were expected to read the Radioactive Source Security Management module before the course began. Participants sat for the Radioactive Source Security Management module exam on the fourth day of the course. (Additional information on the WINS Academy Certification Programme can be found here
By the end of the course, participants understood:
- The IAEA categories of radioactive sources and the security risks, threats and vulnerabilities sources face at different times in their lifecycle
- What needs to be done to ensure source security, who the stakeholders are, and what each one is responsible for doing
- How regulation affects licensees and overall source security
- Why it is so important to identify how sources will be used, tracked, maintained and disposed of before they are purchased
- What the various options are to reduce the security risk, including replacing radioactive sources with alternative technologies
- What a security policy, programme and plan are
- The principles of physical security
- The importance of prior agreement and training with law enforcement and other first responders before an event occurs
- Some practical ways to increase communications, cooperation and coordination among key stakeholders