ABUJA — The Federal Government, weekend, disclosed that Nigeria currently has strong emergency preparedness for any form of nuclear and radiation incident or accident anywhere in the country.
Speaking at a workshop on Nuclear Safety and Radiological Protection, in Abuja, Director-General/Chief Executive Officer of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority, NNRA, Mr. Lawrence Dim, said the agency had initiated a yearly programme to mop up radioactive materials from the system and had also developed stringent policies regarding nuclear and radioactive materials handling, transportation, storage and disposal. He stated that the NNRA also simulated emergency situations concerning radioactive materials to test the country’s response to such situations, if they mistakenly and eventually occurred. He disclosed that to further strengthen the country’s nuclear and radiation safety and protection and also deal with cases of emergencies, NNRA built a Nuclear Security Centre in the country and was currently, gradually equipping the facility with the necessary infrastructure. He said: “In line with President Muhammadu Buhari’s declaration and as part of efforts at meeting Nigeria’s international obligation on nuclear security, a Nuclear Security Centre is being established to serve as a training and coordinating centre in capacity building. It is expected to be a centre of excellent in Africa.” He added that to also fulfill the obligation of the country towards to the international community on nuclear non-proliferation, the NNRA was ensuring that nuclear materials within the country’s territory are properly accounted for.
“On emergency preparedness, NNRA developed with the Nigerian Emergency Management Agency, NEMA, an emergency preparedness and response plan for Nigeria. We have trained frontline officers of the Police, Nigeria Immigration Service, and the Nigerian Security and Civil Defence Corps, who are trained as first responders.” Dim explained that are always risks of radioactive emergencies, especially from mining activities, while he noted, however, that presently, no risk is evident in the country. According to him, some of the situations and items that pose risks to the country have been secured by the NNRA, ensuring that they do not fall into the hands of unscrupulous individuals. In addition, Dim disclosed that Nigeria is already working towards setting up its first nuclear power plant, stating that, hopefully, by 2025, the country’s first nuclear power plant would come on stream, barring any unforeseen circumstance. According to him, it takes a long time to set up a nuclear power programme, ranging from up to 20 years, while he added that it is cost efficient as it could last from between 80 years and 100 years. He allayed fears over Nigeria’s ability to effectively handle and manage a nuclear power plant programme, stating that there are methods to venturing into it, and also because Nigerians are not careless and had been able to develop capacity in the regard over the years. Also speaking, Mr. Nasiru Bello, Deputy Director, Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguard, NNRA, stated that despite the attractiveness of the small and modular nuclear reactors, Nigeria is still skeptical about its acquisition and deployment for power generation, due to the fact that most of the models available globally, especially the Korean designed model, had not been approved by the requisite authorities. According to him, Nigeria would wait for the models to be tested and approvals granted before choosing any particular model, as this, he said, is to ensure that the country is not used as a guinea pig to test the products.