A team of experts of International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has praised the operator of the research reactor in Jamaica as showing continuous commitment to safety following its conversion to Low-Enriched Uranium (LEU) from Highly-Enriched Uranium (HEU) as fuel.
The team also recommended additional improvements with regard to safety at the reactor, which is the only such facility in the Caribbean region. The Integrated Safety Assessment for Research Reactors (INSARR) team completed a five-day mission to review the safety of the JM-1 (SLOWPOKE II type) reactor.
Originally commissioned in 1984, this 20kW reactor is operated by the International Centre for Environment and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) at the Mona campus, University of West Indies, in the capital Kingston. It is used primarily for neutron activation analysis, education, and training.
In 2015, the reactor's core was converted from HEU to LEU fuel as part of a joint effort by the governments of Jamaica, the US and Canada, with help from the IAEA. Core conversion was undertaken to remove the proliferation risks linked with HEU, while maintaining important scientific research.
IAEA nuclear safety officer Deshraju Venkat H Rao said: "The research reactor's operator is showing high-commitment to safety and has made good progress in implementing the IAEA recommendations on the safety of the reactor core conversion."
"There is a need for further improvements, however, particularly in areas related to organisational factors, safety documentation, and operational safety, including the maintenance programme, and operating instructions."
The mission looked into organisational and management issues besides technical areas, including core conversion, safety assessment, operation and maintenance programmes, radiation protection, and emergency preparedness.
ICENS director general Charles Grant said: "We appreciate the continued support of the IAEA, which was central to the safe core conversion activities. The INSARR mission has recommended organisational and technical measures to further strengthen safety of the JM-1 research reactor.
"We are committed to implementing the recommendations. The reactor's continued safe operation will enhance its utilisation and support research not only in Jamaica, but in the entire Caribbean region."
Caribbean Region Urged To Upgrade Their Forensic Technologies
In Washington, D.C. – Jeff Felske the chief executive officer of a Barbados based Canadian company recommended that CARICOM member states impose harsher penalties for persons found in possession of unregistered firearms. Felske, head of Pyramidal Technologies also recommended that countries in the region upgrade their forensic technologies including their forensic ballistics capability.
Speaking at the working luncheon of Caribbean Legislative Week in the US House of Representatives Felske warned that gun crimes, especially homicides would continue to rise unless urgent action is taken to deal with the rising number of unregistered firearms circulating within the region.
"Crime and homicides resulting from the use of firearms must be dealt with as matter of urgent national importance if these countries are to ensure that these do not impact their economies to the point where important sectors like tourism are devastated and investor confidence shattered,".
Felske said illegal guns were being shipped into CARICOM member states from the US, Brazil, Venezuela and even further noting that the situation in Venezuela lent itself to weapons being traded for food. "This represents a potential danger to neighbouring countries and must be addressed seriously," he said. He quoted statistics that show the rising number of gun related homicides in some countries in the region including Jamaica where in 2016 there were 1, 352 compared to 1,207 the previous year.
He pointed to the Dominican Republic where, as a result of the harsh penalty of five years' imprisonment if found with an unregistered weapon, coupled with upgraded forensic ballistics capability, the number of gun related homicides has been on the decrease. Gun related homicides in the country stood at 2,516 in 2011, that number is now down to 1,680 in 2016.
The Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre Caribbean (MTCC Caribbean) Holds First Regional Workshop
This week, the Maritime Technology Cooperation Centre Caribbean (MTCC Caribbean) hosted its first Regional Workshop at The University of Trinidad and Tobago, Chaguaramas Campus. The workshop brought together Senior Maritime Administrators, Legal Officers and Technical Specialists from thirteen Caribbean islands including Trinidad and Tobago. The MTCC Caribbean is one of five such centres around the world, and is hosted by The University of Trinidad and Tobago (UTT). The other four centers are located in Asia, Africa, the Pacific, and Latin America. These 5 MTCCs form a global network for Capacity building for Climate Mitigation in the Maritime Shipping Industry.
The workshop was opened by Mrs. Vivian Rambarath-Parasram, Director and Head of the MTCC Caribbean and also Overall Programme Leader of Maritime Programmes at The University of Trinidad and Tobago. She urged the participants to take advantage of the opportunity provided through the MTCC Caribbean, to undertake an introspective assessment of their responsibilities with respect to climate mitigation in the maritime sector, consider our international obligations, human resource and physical infrastructural requirements, and exchange relevant information.
The Trinidad and Tobago Pilots Association and the Maritime Services division, also presented on their roles as key stakeholders within the local sector and the role that similar stakeholders can play within the region in providing support for the realisation of the MTCC Caribbean objectives.
The workshop included demonstrations in the Full mission Bridge and Engine Room simulators to show how different operational measures and uptake methods could reduce fuel consumption and greenhouse gas emissions into the environment and also increase the cost efficiency of operating vessels.
The Regional Steering Committee will assist the MTCC Caribbean by acting as champions for implementation of its objectives in order to increase energy efficiency and reduce greenhouse gas emissions in the regional maritime shipping sector. This workshop also starts a series of sub-regional workshops across the Caribbean, which will continue to promote and ensure implementation of these methods and technologies, as well as gather data to fuel further research in this area.