09 November 2021
The Australian Radiation Protection and Nuclear Safety Agency has partnered with the Republic of the Marshall Islands (RMI) government to support the development of a sovereign radiation monitoring capability in the region. The initiative is funded through the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
RMI is a Pacific nation in Micronesia and the site of several historical nuclear weapons tests by the United States.
Analysis has been conducted to evaluate the ongoing impact of these tests on the local people and environment, however this new program will allow RMI to develop monitoring capability locally and provide more information to the community about radiation health and safety in the region.
The partnership commenced earlier this year and is part of a wider IAEA program that involves set up of a radioanalytical laboratory, development of a monitoring program and training and support over a 3-year period.
‘We are excited to be working with the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority and RMI Environmental Protection Agency teams as well as the National Nuclear Commission in the Marshall Islands to scope out a program of ongoing monitoring of key radionuclides’ said Marcus Grzechnik, Director, Monitoring and Emergency Response at ARPANSA.
‘The RMI is a significant site for understanding the impact of historical nuclear tests on the environment and on marine life.’
Candice Guavis is the project lead and Marine Toxicology Researcher at the Marshall Islands Marine Resources Authority (MIMRA) and is keen to share the findings of research with the local community.
‘Fish and seafood make up a large proportion of our diet in the Marshall Islands and this program of work will help us better understand the safety of some of those fish products people consume every day,’ said Ms Guavis.
‘This work will help us build local capacity and develop scientific capability to measure radiation in our environment and keep the community informed and engaged.’
This partnership and the wider IAEA program will provide the RMI government with the skills and equipment necessary to undertake independent studies and make informed decisions about the health risks associated with the nuclear legacy.