Protecting the Environment in Cuba

Published Date: 13 June 2013

The Centre for Environment Studies in Cienfuegos, Cuba, or CEAC, is a marine environmental research facility with expertise in nuclear and isotopic technologies. Cuba’s food security, transportation and tourism depend upon a healthy marine environment. CEAC scientists produce validated data needed for better environmental management. (Photo: CEAC, 2001)   After refurbishment, the laboratory is able to perform complex analysis, using donated equipment, including some procured through IAEA technical cooperation support, such as gas chromatography, high-resolution gamma spectrometry and microwave digestion systems. CEAC scientists undertake research, advise on environmental management, engineer solutions for environmental challenges, and monitor pollution. (Photo: S. Gorisek/IAEA) Miguel Gómez Batista, a CEAC scientist and TC Fellow at IAEA’s Monaco-based Environmental Labs studies how arsenic accumulates in Cienfuegos oysters. Carlos Alonso Hernandez, CEAC’s lead researcher, said, “Thanks to the IAEA’s TC Programme, CEAC uses nuclear techniques to solve environmental problems in its marine ecosystems and coastal areas.”  (Photo: M. Warnau/IAEA) Without scientifically validated monitoring data, Cuban policy makers found it difficult to take action against marine pollution. Now, CEAC scientists use gamma spectrometry to detect radioisotopes like lead-210 that minutely register pollution’s accumulation in sediment over several decades. This helps policy makers develop and assess their prevention and remediation strategies. (Photo: S. Gorisek/IAEA) A scientist analyses toxins released by “red tides”, or harmful algal blooms (HABs), which accumulate in seafood, posing a risk to human consumers. Michel Warnau, Head of IAEA Radioecology Laboratory said, “Through the commitment of its staff, CEAC became a Regional Centre of Excellence, supporting other countries in the region.” (Photo: S. Gorisek/IAEA) CEAC participates in regional TC projects in Latin America. Through a bio-monitoring network, and in cooperation with IAEA, ARCAL (the Regional Cooperation Agreement for the Promotion of Nuclear Science and Technology in Latin America and the Caribbean), UNEP and GEF, CEAC and Cuba help determine the impact of chemical contamination, HABs, climate change and ocean acidification on the marine ecosystems and the community. (Photo: S. Gorisek/IAEA) Regional projects helped CEAC expand its expertise to investigate marine environmental processes. CEAC’s scientists now mentor peers in the region, and conduct IAEA TC and ARCAL training courses. CEAC serves as a Resource Centre for the Caribbean region through the provision of analytical services and expert missions throughout the region. (Photo: CEAC/ARCAl, 2012) CEAC participates in IAEA’s coordinated research projects (CRPs), which bring together researchers from around the world to address a shared problem. In the future, CEAC anticipates increased cooperation with IAEA, UNEP, GEF and ICTP as well as regional collaboration through ARCAL to enable coordinated and effective action on the pressing environmental issues of the region. (Photo: IAEA Environmental Labs/IAEA)