Atomic Agency mission is in Lebanon to monitor the accident site

Experts from the IAEA's response assistance mission to Lebanon are measuring radiation levels in various locations in the capital, Beirut.

REUTERS / Mohamed Azakir

A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is in Beirut to support emergency response efforts in the Lebanese capital after last month's explosion in the seaport area. Lebanese authorities reported to the IAEA that they did not detect any high levels of radiation after the August 4 explosion, but asked the mission to confirm their measurements and provide advice on nuclear safety and security issues, the agency said in a statement.

The IAEA's assistance to Lebanon in this particularly difficult phase is not limited to these measurements: the agency provided assistance to the country, particularly in the area of ​​health, as many hospitals were damaged in the explosion.

"After the devastating explosion in the Port of Beirut, Lebanon, the agency acted quickly to help respond to the immediate needs of the country," said IAEA Director-General Rafael Mariano Grossi, cited in the statement. "An IAEA assistance mission, with the involvement of experts from member states, will provide support with radiation surveying, sampling and analysis and will advise on any potential radiation hazards."

During the mission, the IAEA team, made up of four experts from Denmark and France, as well as four members of the IAEA team, will measure radiation levels at various locations in Beirut. Experts will also assess the impact of the explosion on the safety and protection of materials and radioactive sources in hospitals, scrap yards and at the port. The IAEA will donate portable radiation detection equipment to the authorities and training will also be conducted on its use.

In addition, samples of food, sea water, soil and construction material collected by the Lebanese authorities will be analyzed in laboratories in France and Switzerland.

In response to a request for assistance from Lebanon, the IAEA organized the assistance mission with the involvement of member states registered with the IAEA Response and Assistance Network (RANET), a network of countries offering assistance to minimize the real radiological consequences or potential nuclear or radiological emergencies, regardless of origin.

Participation in RANET is a way for States to fulfill their obligations under the Convention on Assistance in the Case of a Nuclear Accident or Radiological Emergency, adopted in 1986 after the Chernobyl nuclear accident.

“We have been in close contact with the Lebanese authorities since the explosion. We activated RANET after requesting assistance from the Lebanese authorities and received offers from fourteen countries to support the response effort, ”said Elena Buglova, head of the IAEA Incident and Emergency Center (IEC), cited in the same statement.

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