By Michael Eboh
The Federal Government, Monday, said it has invited the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, to conduct an assessment of Nigeria’s nuclear and radiation regulatory framework and also undertake a review of the safety and preparedness of the country as regards such issues and emergencies.
Officials of the IAEA Integrated Regulatory Review Services (IRRS) are currently on a mission to Nigeria to undertake a review of the country’s regulatory framework and infrastructure as regards nuclear energy and radiation.
The IRRS team is led by Mr. Lambert Matteochi and the IRRS Coordinator, Mr. Teodros Haliu. In the course of the assessment, the team would visit three facilities of interest in the country; identify best practices that can be shared with other regulators and provide suggestions and recommendations on Nigeria’s nuclear and radiation safety.
The team would conclude their assessment July 12, 2017 and is expected to present an exit report to the Federal Government at the end of the programme.
Speaking at the opening ceremony of the IRRS Mission to Nigeria, hosted by the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Agency, Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr. Ibe Kachikwu, disclosed that the IAEA review team’s visit to Nigeria was at the instance of the Federal Government.
Kachikwu, who was represented by his Senior Technical Assistance on Technical Matters, Mr. Adegbite Adeniji, said the IAEA was invited to undertake a peer review evaluation of Nigeria’s regulatory infrastructure and preparedness for nuclear and radiation emergencies.
He explained that as a strong partner of IAEA in implementing its ‘Atoms for Peace and Development’ mandate, Nigeria commitment and efforts towards ensuring greater security of nuclear materials and maintaining a balance between nuclear non-proliferation obligations and balancing nuclear energy and technology for social economic development remains unwavered.
He declared that Nigeria would continue to live up to its responsibility of ensuring nuclear security whilst collaborating with international agencies such as the IAEA for the provision of tactical assistance, expert advice, with active equipments and training.
He said “As an important and respected member of the IAEA, we have signed and implemented a number of binding international treaties, agreements and conventions. It is worthy of note that specific national regulations have been developed to domesticate these conventions and treaties while existing regulations are been reviewed and benchmarked with international standards.”
Al so speaking, Director General/Chief Executive Officer, NNRA, Mr. Lawrence Dim, said nuclear regulations international and only international best practices are recognized, hence, the invitation to the IAEA for the assessment.
He said the mission to Nigeria provided an opportunity for peer review, adding that at the end of the review, the outcome, containing identification of best practices, suggestions and recommendations would be forwarded to the Federal Government for implementation.
Also speaking, Senate Committee Chairman on Petroleum, Upstream, Mr. Tayo Alasoadura, said the review was timely and important to the country, in view of the need to prevent a recurrence of nuclear and radiation disasters that happened in some countries over the years.
On his own his part, the House Committee Chairman on Petroleum, Upstream, Mr. Victor Nwokolo, said the review was apt in the sense that operators should be aware of the latest and best ways of moving these kinds of materials in or out of the country, to ensure they do not fall into wrong hands.
He said, “In a nutshell, we want these materials to be properly secured, especially with the issue of bomb blast in some parts of the country. The same materials used in our mining sector and quarry are still the same materials used by the terrorists in bombing.
“That is why this review is very timely, to ensure they do not go to wrong hands. As the days pass by, the criminals in our society device more sophisticated methods of getting their evil aspirations carried out.
“That is why I said they should also teach our own people here on how to safeguard these things. Particularly, with our porous borders, how do they ensure that anytime these things are coming in, that they have proper census of the number and quantity of the nuclear material, if not, our lives and that of the country would be in danger.”