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International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) rated among top laboratories in the world

The International Centre for Environmental and Nuclear Sciences (ICENS) located at The University of the West Indies, (UWI) Mona, has been rated among the top laboratories in the world for the quality of its chemical analysis work.  (Reactor shown in photo at full power)
ICENS has been conducting chemical analysis for minerals, food, environmental and construction industries as well as public sector agriculture and water agencies for 29 years.
An international evaluation programme for Neutron Activation Analysis laboratories placed ICENS at the topmost level in a bracket called ‘consolidated state of the practice’ which recognizes laboratories that consistently and competently deliver quality chemical analysis.
ICENS, which operates the only research reactor in the Caribbean region, has been placed in the topmost level with laboratories in Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Czech Republic, Egypt, Kazakhstan, Peru, Portugal, Slovenia, South Africa and Syria. 
With support from The UWI Mona and the Ministry of Science, Technology, Energy and Mining (MSTEM), ICENS plays an important role by ensuring that Jamaican science and technology continues to benefit from the international standards that its work sustains.
Since 2010, ICENS with support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has taken part in rigorous inter-laboratory comparisons organized by the Wageningen Evaluating Programs for Analytical Laboratories (WEPAL) which is based in the Netherlands. The aim of this IAEA sponsored inter comparison is to optimize the effective utilization and safety of research reactors to support socio-economic development. 
The provision of services to third parties by reactor-affiliated nuclear analytical laboratories, such as the neutron activation analysis (NAA) services offered by ICENS, is one of the routes towards this objective. The results reported by NAA laboratories to WEPAL are expected to meet or even exceed the end-users’ requirements, and to comply with international standards to ensure global acceptance.
As part of the evaluation, each laboratory analyzed four soil samples and four botanical samples in each annual round. WEPAL processed the results which were then evaluated ‘blind’ by IAEA experts.   In feedback workshops, the 22 laboratories from Africa, Latin America and Europe re-analyzed samples distributed in the first round of comparisons in order to discuss sources of error and provide recommendations for improvement.
The achievement of the ICENS NAA laboratory is impressive as it was carried out on a ‘business as usual’ basis without interrupting the flow of the Centre’s main scientific research programmes.  ICENS operates internal quality control procedures and has provided NAA data since 1984 for an array of over 60 chemical elements to a wide range of clients. Its international clients recognize the value of obtaining results of such quality without the additional costs and delays involved in sending samples off the island.  [The full report of WEPAL results can be obtained from ICENS at icens@uwimona.edu.jm]

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