IAEA donates specialized vehicle to Moldova for security of radioactive sources
Moldova has a number of radioactive sources, as well as small quantities of nuclear material, which are used in medical and industrial applications and for research purposes.
In supporting the efforts of Moldova to strengthen its national nuclear security infrastructure, the IAEA has donated a specialized cargo vehicle to the country to facilitate the safe and secure transport of radioactive sources to designated specialized storage locations in the country.
"In recent years, the security of radioactive material has been highlighted as a key priority for Moldova, particularly related to locating and securing orphan sources – sources that are lost, missing or were just never registered – and transporting them to secure storage facilities," said Iulian Gisca, Director of the Moldovan National Radioactive Waste Management Company. "Part of this is ensuring that when these sources are located, they can be safely and securely transported to designated storage facilities. For this reason, this specialized cargo vehicle is vital."
Moldova has a number of radioactive sources, as well as small quantities of nuclear material, which are used in medical and industrial applications and for research purposes. The implementation of nuclear science and technology in Moldova has been supported by the IAEA, through its Technical Cooperation Programme, for which ensuring the safety and security of sources during use and storage is key.
It is estimated that worldwide, around 20 million shipments of radioactive material take place every year. The IAEA assists governments and stakeholders globally to enhance their capabilities to help ensure both the safety and security of nuclear and other radioactive material during transport – as well as in use and storage.
To assess Moldova's capabilities for the security of radioactive material in use, storage and transport, and upon the request of the Government, IAEA experts visited the country in 2018. Subsequently, they recommended the purchase of a specialized truck to enable the safe and secure transport of radioactive sources.
The technical requirements of the vehicle were drawn up by the IAEA in close cooperation with the end-user (the Moldovan National Radioactive Waste Company), the national nuclear authority and international experts. "The vehicle's state of the art security system includes sophisticated detection measures, delay barriers, tracking and communication capabilities, which will significantly support Moldova's transport security capabilities," said David Ladsous, Head of the IAEA's Transport Security Unit. Following the completion of the specification, the IAEA procured the vehicle and donated it to the Government. The German government financed, through the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund, the procurement of the truck and the related training activities.
The vehicle is outfitted to ensure it can operate under harsh weather and poor road conditions, and it fully complies with European Union transport safety requirements and international transport security guidance.
"This vehicle donation is just one way in which the IAEA assists the Member States in the development of their national physical protection regimes for the transport of nuclear and other radioactive material," explained Elena Buglova, IAEA Director of Nuclear Security. "This support helps the international community to protect people, property and the environment from malicious acts that could occur during transport."
The IAEA is also providing assistance to Moldova in drafting transport security regulations and conducting training courses to authorized personnel. Following a successful workshop on transport security exercises held in Romania earlier this year, a regional workshop on the topic was conducted from 10 to 13 May 2021 to support coordination between Moldova and Romania for cross-border shipments of radioactive sources. The significance of transport security will be highlighted at the IAEA's International Conference on the Safe and Secure Transport of Nuclear and Radioactive Materials, 13 to 17 December 2021, in Vienna, Austria. The conference aims to support the Member States to further develop their understanding of issues relating to transport safety, transport security and the interface between.
Furthermore, the IAEA provides international consensus guidance on all aspects of nuclear security, including transport security, which is covered in Security of Radioactive Material in Transport (NSS No. 9-G (Rev. 1), 2020) and Security of Nuclear Material in Transport (NSS No. 26-G, 2015, also available in Arabic and French).