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Searching for pollution in the Caribbean
Date:5/5/2009

The hot Caribbean sun bore down on a Honduran naval boat as it criss-crossed the waters of Puerto Cortes, Honduras main port and one of Central Americas most important seaports.

Aboard the vessel, Miguel Gomez Batista, a young radioecologist from Cuba, stared out at the distant horizon with some hint of concern on his face. The ships depth-measuring instrument had been acting up and the last few readings were definitely off.

Miguel, along with a team of five Honduran biologists, had been up at the crack of dawn. They had spent the last few days preparing supplies and equipment for collecting surface and sediment samples on the coastal waters of Puerto Cortes. Puerto Cortes is a mere 55-kilometere drive from San Pedro Sula, where the team was based. But despite their early start, the morning traffic from San Pedro Sula and the unexpected mechanical problems with the boats diesel engine meant the expedition had to start much later than they had originally anticipated. And now this...

Miguel had other reasons to be concerned.

As a regional expert with solid training and experience in sediment sampling, Miguel had been tasked to lead and train a team of young biologists from Honduras Center for the Study and Control of Pollutants (CESSCO) in sediment sampling. He had flown into San Pedro Sula from Cuba over the weekend; then spent the past couple of days teaching the team proper procedures in the use of sampling tools and sample treatment in the laboratory. The two men and three women from CESSCO were eager and quick to learn, yet largely untested. Up until now, their only practice had been on mock-ups in the laboratory. Today, they would need to prove they could do as well in the field.

And, as if this was not pressure enough, a two-man team from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in Vienna had also recently joined the group to observe and record the exercise.

The IAEA, through its Department of Tech
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Contact: Rodolfo Quevenco
r.quevenco@iaea.org
43-126-002-1287
International Atomic Energy Agency
Source:Eurekalert

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