Soccer and Nuclear Safety Converge

Finland and Sweden donated the Sophisticated On-Site Nuclide Identification (SONNI) van at a cost of about $660,000 and handed it over last week to IAEA.

A $660,000 van equipped to be a mobile radiation detection unit was handed over to the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria, on April 22 and will soon be delivered to Ukraine. Donated by Finland and Sweden, the Sophisticated On-Site Nuclide Identification (SONNI) van will improve Ukraine's nuclear security ahead of the UEFA EURO 2012 European soccer championship. IAEA is facilitating the transfer of the unit to Ukraine and working with Finnish experts to provide training on its operation.

"For some 20 years, we have been supporting on a voluntary basis the development of new concepts and technologies and offering (security) training possibilities," said Marjatta Rasi, Finland's ambassador to the IAEA, during the handover ceremony at IAEA headquarters. "The support to the IAEA's program is complemented by the bilateral program between Finland and the Ukraine within which this project was carried out."

Anita Nilsson, director of the IAEA Office of Nuclear Security, called the van program "a good example of a multilateral approach to a problem. This is a great achievement," she added. "We, the IAEA, are very proud of being part of this process."

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