An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Emergency Preparedness Review (EPREV) team has concluded a ten-day mission to review the emergency preparedness and response (EPR) framework for nuclear and radiological emergencies in the Kingdom of Morocco. The was carried out at the request of the Moroccan Government and hosted by the Moroccan Agency for Nuclear and Radiological Safety and Security (AMSSNuR).

Morocco uses nuclear and radiation technologies for medical, industrial, agricultural, research and educational applications. The National Centre for Nuclear Energy, Sciences & Technology (CNESTEN) operates the MA-R1 TRIGA research reactor at the Maâmora Nuclear Research Centre, used for research in nuclear energy and geochronology (determining the age of rocks, fossils and sediments), neutron activation analysis, education and training. Morocco is considering adding nuclear power to its energy mix.

Brian Ahier, Director General of the Environmental and Radiation Health Sciences Directorate at Health Canada, led the six-person team, which also included experts from New Zealand, Spain, Sudan, the United States, as well as staff from the IAEA.

“Overall, Morocco has a solid basis for their EPR arrangements,” said Ahier. “This EPREV mission has identified a high level of capability throughout the country for field radiological emergency operations. The team recommended that Morocco finalise the documents detailing its emergency management system, which will help the country to strengthen its EPR arrangements and capabilities moving forward.”

The team identified several strengths in Morocco’s EPR framework, including:

  • A strong commitment to preparedness for nuclear and radiological emergencies among all stakeholders.
  • Hosting and participating in training, outreach and capacity building to strengthen national and international EPR.
  • Continuous engagement of the Ministry of Finance throughout the national planning process to improve identification and planning of resourcing requirements.
  • The maintenance of a high level of capability throughout the country for field radiological emergency operations.

The team also made recommendations to further strengthen EPR, including:

  • To update the National Hazard Assessment to include an analysis specific to the nuclear and radiation facilities and sources in Morocco.
  • To revise the protection strategy in line with the latest IAEA safety standards.
  • To establish an emergency classification system to allow for prompt identification, notification and activation of emergency response.
  • To develop a radiation monitoring strategy for supporting protective action decisions.

Carlos Torres Vidal, Director of the IAEA Incident and Emergency Centre, said Morocco had become a key regional and international player in EPR having hosted the full-scale Convex-3 exercise 'Bab Al Maghrib' in 2013, led several international initiatives and working groups on nuclear and radiological emergency response, and through operation of the IAEA EPR Capacity Building Centre for Africa since 2019.

Image: Research reactor building at the Maâmora Nuclear Research Centre (courtesy of IAEA)