IAEA drill allows 53 countries to test disaster response capability

Fifty-three countries participated in the recent Mexican disaster scenario, which brought each country's capacity to respond and ability to communicate under scrutiny.

In partnership with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), 53 countries participated in the recent Mexican disaster scenario, which brought each country's capacity to respond -- as well as communication ability -- under scrutiny.

“Exercises like this are an opportunity for us to check our response arrangements,” Juan Eibenschutz, director-general of Mexico’s National Nuclear Security and Safeguards Commission, said. “In the case of Mexico, this exercise was particularly useful to test lessons learned after 2013.”

The scenario tested countries on a stolen piece of radioactive equipment. The scenario started with a liaison officer putting through a test call. 

“This is an exercise, this is an exercise,” she said in Spanish. “The IAEA has been informed by the Mexican authorities that a radioactive source from a hospital in the northern Mexican city of Tijuana has been stolen. The latest information we have is that the source has been tracked in Terminal 1 of the Mexico City International Airport.”

This scenario is reminiscent of an event in December 2013 during which a piece of radioactive equipment was stolen from a truck.

“We organize these exercises to test how professionals cooperate at the international level, based on the international arrangements and the guidance of the IAEA,” Elena Buglova, head of the IAEA’s Incident and Emergency Center, said.

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