KAMPALA – Experts from several African countries are in Uganda to review the status of radioactive waste management, update national inventories, develop the work plans and implementation strategies for strengthening radioactive waste management among member countries.
The meeting at Hotel Africana in Kampala is also attended by experts from International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), which supports safe and peaceful use of atomic technology.
Honey Malinga, representing the Minister of Energy and Mineral Development, while opening the meeting on Monday, said proper radioactive waste management is essential for a healthy environment.
Malinga said that the energy ministry is developing specific objectives for radioactive waste management adding that “We should create awareness on proper radioactive waste management to ensure that both people and the environment are healthy and safe.”
The mention raises fear about nuclear and Atomic weapons and threats to the environment but some participants at the meeting insist that the nuclear, and atomic technology, once safely applied, can be used to address a range of problems especially energy.
He told journalists outside the conference hall at Hotel Africana that apprehension that has existed whenever atomic is mentioned should not deter countries that intend to use it in peaceful applications.
Radioactive waste is generated not only by the nuclear power industry but also by hospitals, universities and non-nuclear industries. The waste requires proper collecting, sorting, treating, conditioning, storing and disposing of radioactive it with utmost precaution to ensure the safety of both the people and the environment within which they live.
On his part, Noah Deogratius Luwalira, the Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Atomic Energy Council, revealed that Uganda has developed regulatory guidelines on the radioactive waste management and preparations are underway to a waste management center set up by the end of next year in Mukono.
“The facility will be built to international standards and contrary to what the people of Mukono thought. It will not have any health threats to the people living near it as alleged, Luwalira said.
The meeting is hosted by Uganda this week is a follow up to the one held in 2014. It is expected that experts will agree on strategies of enlarging the contribution of waste management science and technology to social welfare, health, and energy using Technical Cooperation among Developing Countries (TCDC).
Uganda is a member of the African Regional Cooperative Agreement for Research Development and Training related to Nuclear Science and Technology (AFRA)
Countries in the Africa region in 1988 requested IAEA to help them establish a regional arrangement for cooperation in the field of nuclear science and technology, similar to arrangements already existing in Asia and Latin America.
AFRA aims at maximizing the utilization of available infrastructure and expertise in Africa in the field of nuclear science and technology. It also wants to accelerate regional self-sufficiency in the peaceful applications of nuclear techniques.
The countries participating in the summit include; Algeria, Ghana, Cameroon, Chad, Cote Ivoire, Egypt, Ethiopia, Kenya, Madagascar, Mali, Mauritania, Morocco, Nigeria, Senegal, South Africa, Sudan, united republic of Tanzania, Zambia and Zimbabwe and Uganda.