Science students from Russia and Ukraine have been taking part in a United Nations-backed practical training programme to enhance the protection of people and the environment against radiation exposure from nuclear power plants while responding to safety and security-related needs.
Russia’s Interdepartmental Special Training Centre (ISTC) state-of-the-art training facilities in Obninsk, where the students underwent a week-long course, were recently upgraded with support from the UN International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Nuclear Security Fund.
ISTC cooperation with the IAEA began in 2001, when it introduced an international course on the practical training on operation of physical protection systems. The IAEA organizes training courses and workshops for physical protection specialists from IAEA Member States in the ISTC annually.
In 2004, a decision was taken to create new Physical Protection training facilities at the ISTC. The Canadian Government funded curriculum development, training and equipment for the project through the IAEA Nuclear Security Fund. The new facilities were inaugurated this May.
Students from the National Nuclear Research University (MEPhI) and Tomsk Polytechnic University (TPU) in Russia and the Sevastopol National University of Nuclear Energy and Industry (SNUNEI) in Ukraine took part in the most recent course. The practical training is a continuation of a curriculum introduced by the three universities in recent years.
“To date, the three technical universities are the only institutions of this type to adopt such a programme,” IAEA Physical Protection Specialist Jerzy Knapik said. “However, we continue to research other academic establishments that could offer nuclear security programmes in the hope that the IAEA curriculum can be expanded in the future.”
So far, the curriculum is only offered in Russia and Ukraine and is done in Russian. But the IAEA is currently working with the ISTC and partner universities to offer the practical training also in English.
The university partners are supporting this project that allows students to use the ISTC and exposes them to the most modern technologies – a unique opportunity for students to use such equipment not usually accessible at the universities’ own facilities and research laboratories.
Equipment for ISTC was procured by IAEA from countries as disparate as Canada, Israel, Italy, Japan, France, Germany, Russia, United Kingdom and the United States.