Norm alarm assessment safety issues in Albania
Institute of Applied Nuclear Physics, University of Tirana, Tirana, Albania
2 International Atomic Energy Agency, Vienna, Austria
Accepted: 15 May 2023
Published online: 26 May 2023
The Republic of Albania is a non-nuclear country situated in the Balkan region. In Albania, radiation sources are mainly used in different applications, including medicine, industry, agriculture, research, and education. The Institute of Applied Nuclear Physics (IANP), established in 1970, is the institution in charge of the processing of all radioactive waste produced in Albania and is licensed for import–export, transport, treatment, conditioning, and interim storage of radioactive sources and wastes. IANP is also responsible for the safe and secure transport of radioactive materials and for the response in case of radiological emergency in the country. Two structures are also operational at IANP for detecting and combating illicit trafficking and smuggling of nuclear and radioactive materials. The previous experiences in the country as well as in many other countries require enforcement of rules and regulations on radiation protection to prevent any probable accident with radioactive sources. Due to improper disposition, illicit trafficking, or a human and/or design error, such sources might cause a radiological incident leading to overexposure of patients, radiation workers, and the public. As a result of concern over nuclear and radioactive materials out of regulatory control, Albania has installed a number of Radiation Portal Monitors (RPM) at various border check points. The main issue in relation to illicit trafficking and smuggling in nuclear materials is to detect any possible illegal transits through Albanian territory and borders and to respond to them properly. Most of the RPMs’ alarms are simply the result of naturally occurring radioactive materials (NORM) moving through commerce. Separating alarms possibly caused by nuclear and other radioactive materials from the alarm pool of mostly NORM can be quite difficult for the Front Line Officers (FLOs). The result is that the FLO becomes accustomed to a situation where even if a decision is made on a profile that may, or may not, be NORM to send it to a secondary inspection, the results of the inspection with a piece of field isotope identification equipment are inconclusive or of low confidence. A guide and software tool to provide consistency and confidence in the interpretation of complex nuclear data from radiation detection equipment is urgently needed to support Albania’s efforts. Since 2016, Albania has joined Coordinated Research Project (CRP) J02005 “Improved Assessment of Initial Alarms from Radiation Detection Instruments” organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The knowledge gained on commodities containing NORM, compliance with transportation and safety requirements, and assessment of alarms will be discussed. The importance of documentation, cooperation between safety and security agencies/organizations, and tools to assess radiation alarms will also be covered.
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