Nigeria’s nuclear programme takes giant leap forward

 Nigeria’s nuclear programme may have taken another progressive step forward, with the conclusion of the audit of its nuclear and radiation safety regulatory framework .

The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team leader, Mr Lamberto Matteocci, announced the conclusion of the audit in Abuja at a closing ceremony of a 10-day intensive work mission to Nigeria .

Matteocci is of IAEA’s Integrated Regulatory Review Service, (IRRS), and the ceremony was organised by the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Agency, NNRA, the regulatory body in charge of nuclear and radiation issues in Nigeria.

Matteocci identified five areas where the country could make improvements as regards nuclear and radiation safety to underscore its preparedness for nuclear and radiation emergencies.

He, however, said the final mission report would be ready in three months and made public.

The IRRS team commended Nigeria, especially the NNRA, for its efforts and commitment at improving the safety and protection of people and the environment.

He noted that the NNRA was faced with challenges that included having full independence in decision-making and conducting regulatory activities effectively towards attaining Nigeria’s planned nuclear power programme.

In its recommendations, the team suggested that the Federal Government should establish a national policy on safety and ensure that the corresponding legal framework was in line with IAEA safety standards.

It also recommended that the government should ensure that the NNRA was fully independent.

The NNRA should carry an analysis of all competencies needed to cover its responsibilities and develop and implement a human resource and training plan.”

”The regulatory body should ensure that all facilities and activities have a valid authorisation, and establish and implement an enforcement policy to respond to non-compliance.”

“The NNRA should also consider formalising cooperation with other authorities having responsibilities related to safety,” he said.

The team also  advised the Federal Government to amend its action plan to account for any new issues of the recommendations and suggestions and encourage the country to write the IRRS for a follow-up mission within three to four years.

It disclosed that Nigeria made extensive use of radiation sources in medical and industrial application, science and research, and also had a research reactor used for the analysis of materials and training.

The Director-General of NNRA, Prof. Lawrence Dim, assured that the Federal Government would work with the IAEA to develop a work-plan for the implementation of the mission’s recommendations and suggestions.

Nigeria is always ready to cooperate with the agency in the area of nuclear and radiation safety, as well as in other areas.”

”We are committed to using the IAEA safety standards and international best practices to improve our policy, legal, technical and regulatory infrastructure,” he said.

NAN/Ime N