The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said on 2 September that an IAEA team of experts was in Lebanon to help strengthen its capability to examine the integrity of buildings impacted in last year’s port explosion in Beirut.

The team – including three experts from Italy, Malaysia and Spain, and one IAEA staff member – was training national authorities and professionals in conducting non-destructive testing (NDT) to check the structural soundness of such buildings using specialised equipment. Many buildings directly affected by the devastating blast in August 2020 remain standing and the use of NDT will help to identify if and where any repairs are required.

“The IAEA’s NDT-related expertise can play a crucial role in disaster prevention and management,” said IAEA Director General Rafael Mariano Grossi. “The Agency is providing technical support in this area to help Lebanon examine whether damaged buildings are safe.” The Agency has also supported Lebanon’s emergency response efforts in other areas, including by sending an Assistance Mission to Lebanon in September 2020. It concluded that radiation levels had not increased as a result of the blast. The Agency also provided health-related support, as many hospitals were damaged in the explosion.

“We have faced many challenges in our response to the explosion,” said Bilal Nsouli, Director General of the Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission (LAEC). “The COVID-19 pandemic has added a layer of complexity. The IAEA’s support will help us to develop a sustainable national capability to use NDT in multiple locations throughout the city.” The Agency has previously provided NDT training and equipment to countries affected by earthquakes, including in Albania in 2019, Mexico and Ecuador in 2018 and Nepal in 2015.