By Michael Eboh
THE Nigerian Nuclear Radiation Agency, has predicted that in the near future, companies would start producing cars that run on fuels from nuclear and other radioactive materials.
Director General of the NNRA, Mr. Lawrence Dim, who stated this at the Second National Technical Meeting on Personal Dosimetry for Dosimetry Service Providers and Radiation Safety Advisers in Abuja, declared that this would be driven by the current rate of industrialization across the world.
Dim, who was represented by Mr. Timothy Akpa, General Manager, Department of Nuclear safety, Physical Security and Safeguards, further stated that industrialization is also fuelling the use of nuclear fuels and radioactive materials.
He said, “We are now starting to see how we can use radiation in producing electricity. In many countries, radioactive materials are being used for heating purposes. As I once said, it may likely be that in the future, as safety consciousness grows all over the world, we would soon begin to have vehicles running on fuel of radioactive materials.
“Nigeria cannot afford to be behind. As long as we are building more industries, the refineries and so on, we need radiation to monitor what we are doing. The most important is even in health.
”All aspect of medical services – diagnosis, interventional radiology, radiotherapy and even nuclear medicine, all require radiation; and anywhere there is radiation, there is also the possibility that we would also have to be sure that the use conforms to the internationally recognized dose limits.”
He explained that the technical meeting is a requirement by the International Atomic Energy Agency, IAEA, that every country must have a system of dosimetry that they would use as a benchmark to know how much radiation that the people are getting, and that people are not over-exposed in the course of their work in the industry using ionizing radiation.
Radiation dosimetry refers to the measurement, calculation and assessment of the ionizing radiation dose absorbed by the human body.
He further stated that Nigerians are exposed to radioactivity in many areas of the economic life of the country, especially in the oil and gas industry, mining, beverages and in the consumption of certain goods imported into the country.
Dim disclosed that irrespective of the fact that the country does not have a nuclear power plant, ionising radiation exists in critical economic activities in various industries, which if not properly regulated, might pose serious challenges to the country.
He said, “Whether we have nuclear power plants or not, the use of ionizing radiation; the use of imported products, produced elsewhere, from those plants that are using these radioactive materials, it means we are also exposed to such radiation.
“They are very few industries -starting from industries that produced beverages, like Coca-Cola, they use radiation to make sure that the quality of their products is sound. In bigger industries, like in the oil industry, there is no well-logging without radiation. You cannot know when you have hit oil if you do not use radiation. The oil is far deep inside the ground.
“The same thing with any other mine; you would use radiation to know when you have met with the correct minerals that you are looking for. For example, if you want to dig for gold, you can use radiation to know when you have hit gold and so on and so forth.”
He, however, assured that the NNRA is working assiduously to eliminate any threat from the use and exposure to radioactive materials, through adherence to strict standards.
He said based on the peculiarities of the country, Nigeria has its own standard which was in conformity to international standards that are well-tested and calibrated at the Primary Proximity Centre in the United Nations laboratory in Vienna.
Also speaking, Mrs. Modupe Oresegun, Chief Executive Officer, Nuclear Safety Consultants, declared that Nigeria is doing great in areas of radiation, adding that the NNRA is one of the few regulatory bodies that are effective..
“It is not as if they have covered all operators, but they are doing so well and surely in the more important areas of oil and gas and industry. This is because they partner with international bodies and nobody can import any radiation sources into this country without a license. There is cooperation with the other side and that makes it very effective,” she noted.