Uganda: Atomic Energy Council Boss Admits Radiation Safety Gaps

17 September 2019

A number of facilities are using radioactive materials in an unsafe ways that exposes the users to various health risks, the Atomic Energy Council (AEC) boss has said.

Mr Noah Deogratias Luwalira, the chief executive officer, said although there is no high vulnerability in the country, some people avoid the law and continue to operate without licenses while others use unqualified people to operate these machines.

"Others don't have the necessary protective measures or equipment to protect the people they are exposing but much as these challenges are there, we are handling them by sensitizing stakeholders; both the users and those seeking services from these users of radioactive materials" Mr Luwalira said.

Mr Luwalira said on Monday at the opening of the atomic energy council handling of stakeholders including Uganda Police, Uganda People's Defence, Uganda Revenue Authorities, Ministry of health, Ministry of Energy, Internal Security Organisation among other organisations in Kampala

He said that the training is intended to strengthen the national capacity in nuclear safety and security and all the time to continuously defend people to be equipped with the necessary skills in ensuring nuclear security.

The council is authorised to close any facility using radiation materials that does not meet the required standards especially those with substandard machines, those with leakages and unqualified staff.

"We are involving a number of government agencies in this training radiological crime scene management particularly which have a role majorly the police, the UPDF, the medical people the intelligence people... all these who can play a role whenever there is a crime scene where there is radioactive materials. All these people who could render a service or role of how to handle such a crime scene," Mr Luwalira added.

The short term effects of exposure to too much radiation which occur immediately include; burns, skin reddening, loss of hair and death in extreme cases.

On the other hand, the long term effects that occur if exposed to too much radiation than medically accepted. This include cancers (leukemia, oral cavity, esophagus, stomach, colon, lung, breast, ovary, urinary bladder, thyroid, liver, non-melanoma skin, nervous system, etc,), hereditary defects, sterility, gene mutations, Contamination of soil, water and other Short term - effects occur immediately; this include; skin burns, skin reddening, loss of hair and death in extreme cases.

Mr Wilson Omoding, the deputy director counter terrorism urged communities to always notify the police whenever they get the materials so that officers handling them can come to rescue the situation whenever they are.

"There're is no high vulnerability as a country but it's very common knowledge that you can't wait for an occurrence to arise for you to react. We are sort of preparing ourselves so that should there be any such emergency we are able to handle so we are just trying to build capacity to be able to handle such emergencies in case they happen," Mr Omoding said.

The Atomic Energy Council (AEC) is a government body established by the Atomic Energy Act No.24 of 2008, Laws of Uganda to regulate the peaceful applications of ionizing radiation for protection and safety of society and environment from dangers resulting from ionizing radiation as one of its mandate.

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