Interview to Borja Bravo

Borja Bravo

Founded in 1980, the SEPR brings together professionals working in the different fields of activity in which ionising and non-ionising radiation is used, including the health and industrial sectors, as well as research and teaching.

But how many partners are involved in SEPR and what is their level of participation?

Borja Bravo: Currently, the SEPR has a number of close to 700 members, many of whom selflessly dedicate part of their professional and personal time to making the activities of the Society possible, participating in the committees and working groups. The work of all of them is of great importance, as it allows us to meet our objectives and the Strategic Plan. SEPR is a very active professional association. We organise courses, scientific and technical conferences, seminars and conferences on specific and current issues affecting radiation protection professionals. We also promote and maintain various working groups, in collaboration with other companies or institutions, for the study and analysis of issues of interest, and for the preparation of technical documents and advice in different areas. Individual partners have ample scope to propose and participate in such groups. The main objective of all these initiatives is to be the reference in the field of radiation protection, both for professionals and for institutions, always in the interests of the defence of radiation protection.

What are the main activities promoted by the Society?

BB: In addition to the ones I have mentioned, there are two that stand out above all: the biennial joint congress with the Spanish Society of Medical Physics and the annual PR Conference. Both have become reference events for our partners. With regard to the annual Conference, which has been held recently, it allows us to know some of the most outstanding projects that have been carried out in the previous year. This Day is very much appreciated by our partners, and proof of this is the large influx of people each year.

In addition to these traditional activities, which are planned for 2018?

BB: Throughout this year there will be conferences on the novelties and trends of the Radiation Protection System of the ICRP and on the NORM industries, as well as courses on calibration procedures, shielding of sanitary installations and taking samples of environmental radioactivity. All of them are advertised through our website. Additionally, and as a novelty for this year, we plan to organize technical visits to unique installations.

And in the field of sectoral communication?

BB: In terms of dissemination and communication, we periodically issue publications, including our journal Radioprotección, which is published quarterly and includes original scientific articles, review articles and monographs, interviews, information sections and news related to the field of Radiological Protection. An editorial committee and a scientific committee are responsible for maintaining the quality of the journal and making it a point of reference in Spanish-speaking countries. We also have the website www.sepr.es, which receives more than 13,000 monthly visits, and where you can find the most relevant information related to Radiation Protection, find out about all the activities and calls for proposals of the SEPR, and access publications, presentations and courses. At the same time, the website is the meeting point, the place where discussions can be sparked through the Partners Forum, and questions of general interest can be raised or answered. In addition, we have a very active presence in social networks, being the most used communication channel among young people, and in which we have thousands of followers from 45 countries, highlighting the Latin American.

What initiatives does the Society carry out to disseminate radiation protection to society as a whole?

BB: The objectives of the SEPR include the dissemination of radiation protection in all areas where there is exposure to radiation, through updated information and answers to questions on radiation and radiation protection. Radiation has multiple applications that have improved not only health but also people's living conditions. However, their improper use, or without radiation protection measures, can cause damage to both people and the environment. In addition, the regular appearance of reports or news raises public interest in this issue. In order to provide society with adequate information, we have a web section on the SEPR, coordinated by Leopoldo Arranz and Marisa Tormo, which tries to provide answers to all the questions raised, with the help of a large number of experts who anonymously support us in the different areas of interest. The high number of questions we receive in this section confirms the success of this initiative.

 

THE SEPR CONGRESS

The SEPR Congress is organised jointly with the SEFM: are there many common points between the two societies?

BB: Within this multidisciplinary nature that characterises the members of the SEPR, a large group includes radiophysicists or medical physicists who work in hospitals and health centres and who devote a large part of their work to radiological protection. Nearly 40% of the members of SEPR and SEFM are common, and for this reason both companies decided to hold their congresses jointly, so as to facilitate the presence of professionals and take advantage of the common core that unites both companies. The fact that it is held jointly means that both societies must always dialogue and reach a consensus in order to make the most of this event, always taking into consideration all the participating sectors.

What are the advantages of this model?

BB: Since its first edition in 2009, in Alicante, the Joint Congress has proved to be a wise decision, meeting the objectives set from the outset: increasing attendance and participation, favouring scientific aspects with a greater number of papers presented, and improving economic management, as it allows official and commercial support to be concentrated in a single event. Without a doubt, the exchange of knowledge and experience between the different sectors present at the congresses enriches both specialities and allows us to offer a better overview at present. The SEFM and SEPR are two examples of living and active societies, and it is thanks to their committed and hard-working partners that such outstanding projects as the Joint Congress are achieved.

Can you tell us where the 2019 congress will take place?

BB: The next Joint Congress will be held in the city of Burgos in June 2019. The Organising and Scientific Committees are already working on the scientific and activity programme, which will soon be available on our website www.sepr.es.

 

INSTITUTIONAL RELATIONS

What are the most relevant aspects that the SEPR develops in the field of institutional relations?

BB: The Company maintains close relations with all entities in the field of radiation protection. For example, we maintain a very good and fluid relationship with the Nuclear Safety Council (CSN), mainly with its Technical Directorate for Radiation Protection. We participate in joint work forums with the regulatory body and other companies, which facilitate a permanent dialogue that favours the improvement of safety and radiation protection. Likewise, the CSN supports and collaborates in numerous activities that we organise annually. Every year it presents a summary of the regulatory activity at the Annual Radiation Protection Day, and through its technical staff it collaborates in the organisation of many scientific days, also participating in the committees and working groups. At this point I would like to highlight the excellent relationship we also have with Ciemat, Enresa, Enusa and the Unesa Nuclear Energy Committee (now part of the Nuclear Forum), which are our main collaborators, and thanks to them we can organise many of the activities we carry out. We are convinced that the structural collaboration and permanent and stable support that we have traditionally received is an essential and irreplaceable means of achieving the goals for which the SEPR was created.

The SEPR and the SNE have maintained close relations for years, and what actions do you think could support the activity of both entities?

BB: We have very good relations with the SNE, as with other companies. Proof of this, in 2016 Presidents José Ramón Torralbo and Mercè Ginjaume renewed the collaboration agreement between the two companies. An important number of SEPR partners belong to the nuclear sector, and therefore we must promote and work for the search for synergies and join efforts on those common issues. Likewise, both societies have knowledge and experts, so we can work together to ensure that the contents that reach the Society, through the web and social networks, have the appropriate quality.

 

THE INTERNATIONAL PR

What is the representation of the Society's professionals in international organisations?

BB: The SEPR has always expressed its interest in cultivating and strengthening relations with international institutions, in particular with the International Radiation Protection Association (IRPA) to which we are affiliated, and with the International Commission on Radiation Protection (ICRP). I must admit that I am very proud of the participation, at the highest level, of SEPR professionals in these bodies. Eduardo Gallego, president of the Society between 2013 and 2015, was elected in May 2017 as vice president of IRPA. Eduardo is a well known and beloved professional at IRPA, has been our mentor and encourages us to continue to participate in international activities. Undoubtedly, we can say that it is Marca España. Other partners also collaborate with IRPA through working groups, such as Mercè Ginjaume, former president, who has participated in the working group on crystalline dosimetry, and Teresa Ortiz, who has joined the working group on the safety of radioactive sources.

And what is the representation in the ICRP?

BB: At this point I must also say that it is an honor to have members among our members on the ICRP committees. Currently, since last July, our Society is represented by Eduardo Gallego, Josep M. Martí and María Antonia López. We systematically inform and promote the review of new ICRP reports on our website, and every two years we organize a technical workshop on ICRP developments and trends. In addition, and in order to preserve the privileged relations that we have always maintained with European and Latin American societies, we will actively collaborate in the regional congresses to be held in 2018 in The Hague and Havana, contributing expert professionals to the scientific committees of both events. I would also like to recall that our Society played an important role in ensuring that the 2017 ICPRAM Congress was held in Madrid. It was the result of joint collaboration with the Ministry of Health, bringing together professionals from Spain and Latin America. As a result of the success of this Congress, a monographic issue of Radioprotection was published and the conclusions were published in Spanish, English and Portuguese.

 

THE EUROPEAN DIRECTIVE

What is the status of the transposition of the European Directive on the basic principles of justification and optimisation in the use of ionising radiation for the radiation protection of individuals against medical exposure?

BB: Directive 2013/59/Euratom is a very broad directive, which applies to any situation of planned exposure involving a risk of exposure to ionising radiation that cannot be considered negligible from the point of view of radiation protection or in relation to the environment, in order to protect human health in the long term. For this reason, it covers situations and activities in very different fields, and its transposition is also very complex, with competences distributed among different ministries such as Health, Energy, Development or Interior, each of which is responsible for part of the regulation, requiring a great deal of coordination and consensus work. This has meant that, although the deadline given by the Directive itself for the Member States to bring into force the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with it, expired on 6 February 2018, Spain, like the vast majority of other European countries, has not managed to complete the transposition of all the applicable legislation and the interministerial group formed in 2013 continues its work. For our part, since the adoption of Directive 2013/59 Euratom, the SEPR has coordinated a working group led by María Teresa Macías, coordinated with other scientific societies whose professionals could be affected, both in the health field (SEFM, SEOR, Seram, SEMNIM and AETR) and with SNE. During these years, various meetings have been held with representatives of the inter-ministerial group in charge of transposition, always offering the collaboration of the SEPR and the other companies. We understand that it is very important to take into consideration the opinion of professionals, who are familiar with the activities and the day-to-day running of the facilities, and that is why we are willing to collaborate.

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