IAEA helps Beirut use NDT in recovery efforts

03 September 2021

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts is conducting a mission to Lebanon to train national authorities and professionals in conducting non-destructive testing (NDT) to examine the integrity of buildings affected in last year's port explosion in Beirut.

During the mission to Beirut, the IAEA team is carrying out practical NDT training with specialised equipment (Image: Abel Domato / BAC)

NDT is used to evaluate the integrity and properties of components, machinery, and structures without damaging the tested object. Many buildings directly affected by the devastating blast on 4 August 2020 - caused by a large quantity of ammonium nitrate stored in a warehouse near the port - remain standing and the use of NDT will help to identify if and where any repairs are required.

During the week-long mission, the IAEA team - including three experts from Italy, Malaysia and Spain, and one IAEA staff member - is carrying out practical NDT training with specialised equipment in buildings in central Beirut that were affected by the explosion.

"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 IAEA 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.

"We have faced many challenges in our response to the explosion," said Bilal Nsouli, Director General of the Lebanese Atomic Energy Commission. "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."

In September last year, the IAEA sent a team of experts to Beirut to check for elevated levels of radiation as a result of the blast. The team did not find any unusual radiation levels, only natural background radiation in areas surveyed, confirming the findings of Lebanese authorities which had requested the IAEA assistance mission to support their emergency response efforts following the explosion. The IAEA team also assessed the impact of the blast on radioactive material and sources. They confirmed that radioactive sources at two hospitals were safe and secure.

The IAEA promotes the use of NDT technology to maintain the stringent quality control standards for the safe operation of nuclear and other industrial installations. It helps its Member States train staff in applying the technology and provides necessary equipment.

The Agency's long-standing involvement in the NDT programme has led to the establishment of national teams that provide services to industries, training centres and certifying bodies that are responsible for the training and certification of personnel involved in NDT.

Researched and written by World Nuclear News