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Experts from the United States National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, were in Uzbekistan recently to lead a training course in locating and securing radioactive materials.
The course was designed to train people to use high tech meters, probes and other equipment to find and identify high-activity radioactive sealed sources. Once the searchers know the nature of the source of the radiation, they can determine how to package and remove it to a safe location.
About 25 people from the Institute of Nuclear Physics, Republican Central Isotope Laboratory, State Inspectorate, State Customs Committee, and the Ministries of Public Health, Defense and Emergency Situations participated in the training. At the end of the training, the equipment, worth more than $130,000, was distributed among the trainees to use in searching sites throughout Uzbekistan that could contain radioactive sealed sources.
Radioactive sealed sources are used in a wide range of medical and industrial activities, including treatment of cancer and other serious diseases, powering remote stations, such as navigation beacons, and in equipment that gauges depth and density in industrial processes.
"This training highlights the cooperation between the United States and Uzbekistan to prevent orphaned radiological sources from falling into the wrong hands," said Andrew Bieniawski, NNSA assistant deputy administrator for Global Threat Reduction. "Searching and securing these types of radioactive materials helps ensure that they cannot be used to build a radiological dispersal device or so-called "dirty bomb."
NNSA's Global Threat Reduction Initiative has provided similar training in more than thirty countries. Following the training and equipment donations, searchers of other nations of the former Soviet Union have found and secured radioactive materials in a variety of locations.
The training provided an opportunity to network and exchange ideas about pooling resources to search for radioactive sealed sources for many participants in Uzbekistan who had not previously met.
The United States is committed to working with its partner Uzbekistan and other nations to help ensure that dangerous nuclear materials are located and kept safely and securely.