Namibia Economist (Windhoek)

22 February 2013

Namibia: Public Needs to Know About Radiation

At a public workshop on 01 March at the training centre of the Uranium Institute in Swakopmund , experts will give an introductory overview on radiation and its relation to uranium mining in Namibia. The workshop is organized by the Chamber of Mines Uranium Institute and is directed at informing the public, especially Erongo residents, about the various standards involved with radiation safety. It also promises to serve as a platform to clear any misconceptions concerning radiation safety. According to the announcement, the presenters of the workshop are Dr. Detlof von Oertzen who is the Director of VO Consultancy, and Dr. Gunhild von Oertzen. Both experts are technical advisers to the Health, Environment, Radiation Safety and Security Standards (HERSS) which provide a basis for mining in Namibia.

"The Uranium Institute runs many different courses with emphasis on radiation safety and environmental management. Most of the courses are for mine employees in order to provide them with advanced training thus enabling them to perform their work well,"said Monika Stiebahl, Administration Officer at the Chamber of Mines Uranium Institute. "The issues being discussed at workshops of this kind are mostly on radiation levels and risks of mining uranium. The level of radiation where biological effects may incur are also discussed. As this workshop is for the public, we expect a lay audience with a mixture of people such as students, mine employees, concerned parents, teachers, journalists and tour guides."She further added,"We hope to inform the public and also offer them a platform, where they can raise their concerns and receive scientific answers and background knowledge on the subject matter."

According to the Mrs Stiebahl the institute has been running similar workshops over the past two years. " We were running 3 to 4 public courses on Radiation and Uranium per year, just to offer information for those interested in the topic and who want to learn more about radiation,"she said. "Besides our courses, we also have an information centre, which is frequently visited by tourists, school groups, students (from Namibia and abroad), as well as members of the public. Here we inform the visitors about the different uranium mines in the Erongo region, on radiation and uranium,and generally on what the institute is doing."She urged the public to attend such workshops or visit the institute that all may be informed of updated standards and quality assured radiation information.

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