A Methodology for Performing Security Risk Assessments on Fixed-Location Sources in the Medical and Research Environment


J. P. Hageman, M. A. Charlton


Hospitals, ambulatory treatment centers, and research facilities licensed for high-activity, fixed-location radiation sources should pragmatically evaluate incremental security measures. However, regulatory guidance on anticipating, assessing, and controlling radioactive material security threats has been limited. A model methodology for performing radioactive material security risk assessments in the medical and research environment is provided. The International Atomic Energy Agency has determined that radioactive sources that pose a high risk to public safety in the event of terrorist activities include irradiators, teletherapy units, gamma-knife units, blood irradiators, and radioisotope thermoelectric generators (RTGs). Since select high-activity irradiators (e.g., sterilization and food preservation facilities) and RTGs are considered outside the scope of common clinical or research activities, this paper will focus on hospitals, ambulatory treatment centers, and research facilities possessing high-activity/high-risk sources. As medical and research facilities around the world begin to examine newer and more stringent security requirements for their high-risk radioactive material, they must develop a comprehensive implementation plan for source security. The implementation plan should logically take into consideration existing safety and security processes to help ensure cost-effectiveness. Implementation factors ranging from internal and external radiation safety considerations, cost effectiveness, business interruption, and reputational risk are included in the assessment. The suggested methodology uses a risk-based approach to identify security deficiencies and corrective actions. Additional costs for new security measures include security culture shift, training, physical barriers, administrative/access control, or source substitution. This paper presents some of the safety/security measures that may already exist and highlights additional incremental security measures necessary to minimize risk and prevent unauthorized access or removal of high-risk radiation sources.


This abstract was presented at the 38th Annual Midyear Meeting, "Materials Control and Security: Risk Assessment, Handling, and Detection", Materials Control and Security in University and Medical Facilities Session, 2/13/2005 - 2/16/2005, held in New Orleans, LA.

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