The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency said Monday it had assisted in the removal of 27 highly radioactive sources from five South American countries in what was the largest agency effort of its kind to date.
The material was largely used for medical treatment, “such as treating cancer and sterilizing instruments,” the agency said. It was moved to Germany and the United States for recycling, making it a “significant” security and safety step for the region, according to an online write up.
The material, Cobalt-60 and Caesium-137 was sealed, but remain a security and safety risk when not in use. “The removal of this large number of radioactive sources has significantly reduced those risks in the five countries,” said IAEA Division of Nuclear Security Director Raja Adnan.
It took five months to complete the project, which involved Peru, Uruguay, Bolivia, Ecuador and Paraguay, in some cases removing radioactive material that had been in storage in hospitals for as long as 40 years.
Transportation was completed at the end of March, adding to the number of countries where the IAEA has assisted in the removal of disused sources in recent years. The list of locations assisted in this manner include Bosnia, Herzegovina, Cameroon, Costa rica, Honduras, Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia and Uzbekistan.
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