Pilot training on Radiological and Nuclear Detection Awareness

26 noviembre 2020

The WCO Strategic Trade Control Enforcement (STCE) Programme has worked together with the United States Department of Energy and its National Nuclear Security Administration’s Office of Nuclear Smuggling Detection and Deterrence (NSDD) to create a new training curriculum focused on Radiological and Nuclear (RN) Detection Awareness addressing operational staff.

Due to the COVID-19 health emergency and ensuing travel restrictions, the pilot training had to be adapted to an online format and held between 9 and 13 November 2020, in English and Spanish. The course was attended by 21 officers from 14 Customs Administrations in the Americas region and involved English and Spanish speaking trainers from the WCO and the US DoE.

The event started with opening remarks by Mr. Pranab Das, WCO Director of Compliance and Facilitation, Mr. Richard Pappas from NSDD and Ms. Marilu Haydee Llerena Aybar, Director General of Peruvian Customs. Speakers underlined the necessity of raising awareness and building capacity in this particularly important field, crucial to both national and global security. It was also underscored that working together at a national and international level is needed to combat illicit trade in RN materials. This idea was also part of the reason why the training was provided at a regional level. On the last day, the WCO Deputy-Director of Compliance and Enforcement, Mr. Stefan Kirsch, delivered closing remarks and congratulated the instructors and participants for their hard work and high levels of engagement.

Throughout the week, the trainers conducted several group exercises, making use of the virtual breakout room function, to involve participants and assist better understand various concepts, from the role of customs in RN detection to the importance of risk management against RN threats. All attendees showed a strong interest, and actively participated in activities asking relevant questions.

As a matter of course the WCO collected feedback from the trainees. Replies and observations received are being considered in great detail due to the training being a pilot to enable organizers to evaluate strengths and weaknesses of the course content. In general, feedback has been very positive in terms of the instructors, the curriculum, and the high level of interactivity. The comment received from a Mexican trainee, “Acquiring this knowledge has been an incredible experience, because it gives you another perspective on this type of materials that may be crossing our borders. Having training that allows us to have more tools for detecting them it helps us a lot in our work”, summarized the feedback from the participants.

As a result of the post-event evaluation process the WCO and the US DoE plan to move forward with the creation of a final course curriculum and a detailed proposal on how these training can support WCO members will be presented to the 41st Session of the Enforcement Committee.