IAEA and ICAO enhance cooperation

13 November 2023

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO) have agreed to enhance their cooperation around the transport of radioactive materials by air. In particular, they aim to improve the efficiency and speed of these shipments.

(Image: TobiasRehbein / Pixabay)

Nuclear medicine is based on access to radiopharmaceuticals for a variety of diagnostic uses and specific therapies. Getting radiopharmaceuticals from the manufacturer to hospitals and medical clinics depends on fast and reliable transport, including by air. More than 10,000 hospitals worldwide use radioisotopes in medicine, mostly for diagnosis.

In a joint statement, IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi and ICAO Secretary General Juan Carlos Salazar said the agreement "highlights the importance of adherence to the IAEA safety standards for the safe use of radioactive materials and to ICAO standards for global civil aviation safety and security".

The agreement builds on the cooperation between both UN bodies on matters of common interest that began in 1960.

It encompasses the development and review of relevant IAEA safety standards and the harmonisation of best practices globally, with the IAEA and ICAO collaborating to collect and analyse associated information. Raising stakeholder awareness through education, training, and outreach are also foreseen, including around emergency preparedness. In addition, it covers radiation research and information exchange towards radiation protection in civil aviation, especially regarding cosmic radiation exposure to flight crews.

The joint statement highlights that the "stronger mutual cooperation will create a conducive environment for countries to harness the benefits of the peaceful uses of nuclear technology in meeting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals", and helps set the stage for deeper collaboration in the near future.

"The IAEA's role in ensuring the safe transport of radioactive material by air is essential in the carriage of short-lived radiopharmaceuticals and other crucial radioactive materials," Salazar said. "ICAO welcomes the heightening of our collaboration in this vitally important area of mutual interest."

Grossi added: "It is very important that the work the IAEA and ICAO undertake in developing and strengthening the implementation of international standards is complementary. The IAEA greatly values ICAO's long-standing contribution to the development and review of IAEA safety standards. We can work even more closely together in other areas of common interest, such as in reducing denials of, and delays in, shipment of radioactive material by air."

Researched and written by World Nuclear News