As Barbados works to ensure that its radiological sources are secure and safe, Minister of Health John Boyce announced today that the country???s application for membership to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has been accepted.
He was speaking at a course on Physical Protection and Security Management organised by the Office of Radiological Security in the United States Department of Energy.
The course, which is taking place at the Radisson Aquatica Resort, has attracted participants from Barbados, Dominica, Curacao, Jamaica and Trinidad.
Mr. Boyce noted that each of the countries represented, as small island developing states, had unique challenges and a common vulnerability to physical and financial threats, due to their relatively small size and economic realities.
In addition, he said: ???We, likely, have growing radiological infrastructure as new developments become more accessible and are routinely utilised in our medical, academic and industrial settings.?????He therefore stressed the importance of having appropriate high quality mechanisms for ensuring that radiological sources were managed and protected.
Mr. Boyce expressed gratitude to the various agencies which have helped Barbados to assess and develop its capacity to deal with complex issues of international importance in the area of management of radiological materials.
The Health Minister stated that in January last year, personnel from the Pacific Northwest National Laboratory, which also falls under the US Department of Energy, visited the Clara Brathwaite Centre for Oncology and Nuclear Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital to assess the security of the Cobalt-60 teletherapy source, as well as the room designated for the new brachytherapy unit.
He revealed that a range of security measures were recommended and the work being carried out by a local contractor was nearing completion. Some of the features include the installation of security doors to each room, secure external doors and security monitoring systems.
He explained that as the 167th member state of the IAEA, Barbados will now be involved in protocols which would see safeguards being put in place to verify that nuclear material in Barbados was not diverted from peaceful purposes.
???An Additional Protocol has been developed, significantly increasing the IAEA???s ability to verify, not only that there is no diversion of declared nuclear material, but also that there are no undeclared nuclear material or activities. The conclusion of an Additional Protocol by Barbados would play an important part in helping the IAEA safeguards to be put in place,??? the Minister said.