Swedish Experience in Implementing Requirements for Physical Protection of High-Level Radiation Sources

New requirements for physical protection of high-level radiation sources were developed in Sweden two years ago. Zlatan Delalic, representative of the Swedish Radiation Safety Agency (SSM), shared Swedish experience in this area during the XV Ukrainian Conference on Physical Protection, Accounting and Control of Nuclear Materials.

Zlatan Delalic, representative of the Swedish Radiation Safety Agency (SSM)

According to Zlatan Delalic, the regulatory framework were implemented and new requirements were developed as a result of a number of international events aimed at enhancing of nuclear safety. 

The summits on nuclear security in the period from 2011 to 2016 become one of the most important events. The final communique of the Washington Summit stated on the need for international cooperation to combat not only nuclear, but also radiation terrorism. Besides, the UN Convention was signed. This Convention provided for the criminalization of unauthorized use of nuclear and radiation materials.

“So far, the world community has mainly raised the issues of a nuclear threat. However, after the terrorist attacks in Norway in 2011 and in Belgium in 2016, it became obvious that the likelihood of the threat of radioactive materials is as real as the likelihood of the threat of nuclear materials abuse”, Zlatan Delalic stated.

However, the level of risk depends on the category of radioactive material activity. Therefore, the Swedish authorities made a decision to increase safety level primarily for the most hazardous category of radiation sources, namely, cesium sources (with radionuclide Cs-137), to obtain a quick result in the shortest possible time.

Only general regulatory requirements for safety of radiation sources were available earlier in Sweden. New regulatory documents describe in details requirements for physical protection of high-level radiation safety. These requirements relate directly to the storage sites, their provision with alarm and video surveillance equipment, access control and document management.

As of the moment of implementing new requirements, thirteen high-level radiation sources were used in medical institutions and twelve radiation sources were used in research institutes of Sweden. By now, most of these establishments refused of their use.  

“We refused from the use of twenty radiation sources out of twenty five by replacing them with alternative technologies”, SSM representative concluded. “Those organizations that continue using the remaining five high-level radiation sources, the rejection of which is not yet possible, have fulfilled the new requirements for physical protection” . 

Uatom.org editorial board