Six officials from the United States government’s National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) are in Managua this week to train Nicaraguan government officials on how to search for and secure low-level radioactive materials. The team is here as part of the Radiological Security Program, which has partners in more than 100 countries and whose mission is to reduce and protect vulnerable nuclear and radiological material located at civilian sites around the world. Twenty four individuals representing multiple Nicaraguan agencies, including personnel from the Nicaraguan National Atomic Energy Commission (CONEA), the Nicaraguan Health Ministry (MINSA), the Nicaraguan Department of Customs, National Police, and Environmental Protection, attended the training. Participants received classroom instruction from the search and secure trainers, as well as hands-on time with radiation detection equipment. On the final day of the training, participants also took part in practice search exercises. In addition to providing the week-long training, the NNSA team donated $100,000 in radiation detection equipment and provided access to an online training program designed specifically for use by Nicaraguan authorities.
The U.S. Office of Global Threat Reduction has been working with CONEA for several years to secure high-activity radioactive sources and provide regulatory and training support to ensure conformity with international guidelines and best practices. The goal of the program is to help countries like Nicaragua develop the capacity to search for and secure radioactive materials that could pose a threat to public health and safety.