U.S. Army Radiation Safety and Security Consultation at the El Retiro Radioactive Waste Storage Site, Managua, Nicaragua


F. Szrom, M. A. Melanson, G. A. Falo, D. P. Alberth


At the request of the U.S. Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua, the U.S. Army Center for Health Promotion and Preventive Medicine performed a radiation safety and security consultation for the El Retiro Site during the summer of 2003. The El Retiro Site is located in Managua, Nicaragua, on the premises of the former El Retiro Hospital. The hospital was destroyed by an earthquake in 1972 and ceased functioning as a hospital. The teletherapy exposure room of the hospital site was not destroyed by the earthquake and is currently used to store radioactive waste. The wastes stored there include Ra-226 sources (needles, tubes, and medical applicators) and Co-60 sources (teletherapy heads) that are no longer used. Sources stored at the site had been conditioned and packaged by two missions under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in the late 1990s. Nicaragua is a member state of the IAEA. Both Nicaraguan and U.S. officials expressed safety and security concerns about the site, especially the potential for source theft and subsequent use for malevolent purposes. The assessments performed included radiation surveys at the El Retiro Site and an evaluation of current site safety and security measures based on guidance developed by the IAEA. The results of the assessments and evaluations indicate that, although the sources and associated safety and security measures were intact, enhanced security measures are needed to protect against theft.


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

Index of Midyear Meeting Abstracts