At the request of the Nigerian government, the IAEA deployed a team of nuclear safety experts to secure and transport several potentially hazardous radioactive sources in the country. Staff from the Agencys Nuclear Fuel Cycle and Waste Technology department (NEFW) traveled to several different locations within Nigeria to safely recover the radiological sources and ship them in transport containers for return to Canada or processing at a Nigerian waste facility. With widespread application in a variety of medical, industrial, and research applications, keeping people safe from any potential risk from neglected neutron sources is a high priority.
"In countries where there are few proper places for safe and secure storage of used radioactive materials, we help to make sure that potential danger is removed," said Josef Neubauer, a nuclear engineer in NEFW, who managed the Nigerian repatriation project. "We make trips such as these on an almost monthly basis to recover disused material that could be inappropriately used."
At the request of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), the IAEA assembled a team of radiation recovery experts to pick up the sources in three locations around the country. The team travelled to two hospitals and a research centre over a weeklong period last July, and recovered sources that were formerly used for cancer treatment and an insect irradiation project. The seven high-activity sources were expired, but would have posed a public safety threat had anyone come into contact with them. A high degree of security was maintained during the mission, with police accompanying the transport of the sources at all times. NNRA staff and bomb squad staff also assisted the multinational team to recover the sources.
The mission was not without its challenges. In addition to difficulty in disassembling some of the units, the team encountered vehicle breakdowns, equipment delays, and traffic jams. At one recovery miss
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International Atomic Energy Agency