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Energy ministry in radioactive waste handling training

A technician explains how the Cobalt 60 radiotherapy machine works. (FILE PHOTO)

KAMPALA– In bid to prepare Ugandans for radioactive waste handling and equip them with skills while using atomic energy, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) of the Ministry of Energy has started training their staff and key players.

According to the training programme accessed by PML Daily, the atomic energy staff in the five days be trained on aspects involved in the management of radioactive waste and equipped with skills required to transport radioactive substances within the country.

Mr Noah Luwalira, the Atomic Energy Council [AEC] Chief Executive Officer said the course modules will handle operational radioactive waste management during collection, characterization, conditioning, transport and storage.

“We shall also handle topics on international best practices and regulations, national and international state-of-the-art, and benefits from expertise from the point of view of waste producers and waste management organisation, said Mr Luwalira.

This comes at the time the government is in the final stages of plans to generate some 2,000mw of electricity by 2032 from nuclear plants to be constructed in five districts of Buyende, Mubende, Kiruhura, Lamwo and Nakasongola.

Mr Luwalira, explained that the radioactive substances as those materials that emit ionising radiation and that the examples include uranium, thorium and potassium, among others.

He said the training is aimed at boosting capacity of the people who are supposed to ensure nuclear security of radioactive materials in transportation, waste handling, and waste Transportation, waste types, disposal Methods, cleanup Standards and waste Characterization Criteria.

“We want our people to know the basics because they will have to transport these radioactive materials from one place to another,” added Mr Luwalira while addressing staff at Hotel Africana at the ongoing training 23 July.

He said the energy council regulates the peaceful applications of ionising radiation to provide for the protection and safety of individuals, society and the environment from the dangers resulting from these materials.

Mr Joshua Birungi, a radioactive protection officer at AEC said this training is being done in accordance with the Atomic energy bill 2008.

The Atomic energy Bill

The Uganda’s Atomic Energy Bill came into effect in 2008, to regulate the use of ionising radiation and provide a framework to develop nuclear power generation.

And in October of 2008, Uganda signed up to the IAEA’s Country Programme Framework, which provides a frame of reference for planning medium-term technical cooperation between an IAEA member state and the Agency, and identifies priority areas where the transfer of nuclear technology and technical cooperation resources will be directed to support national development goals.

Dangers of exposure to radioactive waste

Mr Birungi said exposure to high doses of radiation from generators predisposes individuals to skin burn, tissue reactions/organ damages and higher cancer incidence rates, especially at high dose exposure and even sudden death in rare cases of extreme exposure.

He explained that small amounts of radiation can cause diseases that are not so serious but develop over the course of time and that other adverse effects include damage of the central nervous system and cataracts.

“And to avoid such consequences, we observe what we call Alara [As Low as Reasonably Achievable. Principles which is based on the minimisation of radiation doses and limiting the release of radioactive materials into the environment by employing all reasonable methods,” said Mr Luwalira.

The training has attracted government officials from security agencies such as the Uganda People’s Defence Forces, traffic police and AEC to boost their capacity in responding to emergency scenes.

Mr Birungi said radioactive materials have a potential of being targeted by unscrupulous individuals who might use the nuclear material for explosive devices.

He described nuclear security as a measure relating to the prevention and detection of, and response to theft, sabotage, and un-authorised access and illegal transfer of nuclear material and other radioactive substances. Ends

 

 

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