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The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has carried out the inaugural mission, in Thailand, of the Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources Technical Centre (DSRS TeC) peer review service. This new service aims to enlarge the global pool of resources and support for countries in the sustainable management of these sources.

The inaugural DSRS TeC mission at the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (Image: TINT)

Most radioactive waste arising from nuclear applications consists of disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS). Radioactive sources are used in different devices in medical, industrial and agricultural facilities. They have to be accounted for and when they are no longer usable, they have to be recovered, dismantled, stored and, in some cases, prepared for transportation.

The IAEA launched the DSRS TeC service in September 2022 in an effort to increase and enlarge the accessible pool of resources and support for sustainable management of DSRS. Morocco's National Centre for Energy and Nuclear Science and Technology hosted a pilot DSRS TeC mission in May 2022.

Like other IAEA-led peer review services, DSRS TeC will comprise a team made up of IAEA and external experts. 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.

The IAEA announced that the first DSRS TeC mission has now been conducted following the launch of the service.

The inaugural DSRS TeC mission, supported by funds from the USA, took place in Bangkok at the Thailand Institute of Nuclear Technology (TINT), from 18 to 21 July. The mission team comprised four experts from the Philippines and Serbia, and two IAEA staff members. Preparation of DSRS packages for domestic transport of sources, characterisation of devices, and dismantling and conditioning of sources were addressed during the review.

TINT built a dedicated DSRS storage facility in 2013, which operates under a strict quality management system. In 2020, TINT redesigned its inventory system. Following the peer review, the 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 Nora Zakaria, head of the IAEA's Waste Technology Section and the IAEA's lead on the 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. These impressive achievements should chart the way forward for collaboration. It's a great start to this new service."

"I found the mission's unique approach beneficial to strengthening the practice of DSRS management," said TINT Manager Nikom Prasertchiewchan. "Although TINT has established quality management systems, the peer review mission brings added value by looking into the details of the technical proficiencies, operations and, in particular, the conditioning of sources."

While led by IAEA experts, DSRS TeC encourages not only organisations with well-equipped facilities and personnel to sign up to provide DSRS technical expertise, but also organisations wishing to strengthen existing capacity.

"The overall aim of DSRS TeC is to strengthen DSRS management practices and form sustainable support in the long run," Zakaria said.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News

Date: Friday, 11 August 2023
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