NNRA Seeks Upgrade of Nigeria’s Nuclear Safety Laws

Albert Akpan

Albert Akpan

Emmanuel Addeh in Abuja

The Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) has continued its consultations with the National Assembly to re-enact the Nuclear Safety, Security and Safeguards Act (NSSS) bill.

Already, the agency has met with the Senate Joint Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) and that of Science and Technology on the hearing on the bill.

The bill seeks to re-establish an already existing legal and regulatory framework for the safe application of nuclear technology and reposition the NNRA by strengthening its regulatory functions. According to the agency, reviewing the act will enable Nigeria meet its national and international obligations on the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.

The process of re-enactment of the bill commenced in the 8th assembly but did not sail through before the expiration of that assembly.

The Chairman, Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream), Senator Albert Akpan, in his opening remarks said the committee was committed to seeing to the quick passage of the bill, hence the call for a public hearing to accommodate all stakeholders in the industry.

He assured stakeholders that their inputs and submissions will be considered appropriately and expressed the hope that the bill will be passed into law soonest.

Also, the Minister of State for Petroleum Resources, Mr Timipre Sylva, represented by the Permanent Secretary, Mr. Bitrus Nabasu, stated the importance of nuclear technology and enjoined its peaceful application in a number of Nigeria’s socio economic activities.

He highlighted the notable deficiencies the bill seeks to address especially on all modern areas of nuclear safety and security as prescribed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and applauded the 9th assembly for the early start in consideration of the bill.

The Director General of the NNRA, Dr. Yau Idris, who led the authority’s management staff together with the NUPENG and PENGASSAN leadership of NNRA to the hearing also agreed with the minister’s submissions.

Once passed, the bill is expected to take care of the issues of prime responsibility for security as well as nuclear security coordination among others.

It would accommodate the operation of Nuclear Power Programme (NPP) in the country and form the basis for science and nuclear energy operations in the country.

The bill seeks to review regulations on radiation protection, transport and radioactive waste management, physical protection of nuclear material and nuclear facilities, nuclear safeguards as well as uranium mining, milling and processing.

The NSSS bill also entails that no person shall site, construct, commission, operate or decommission a nuclear installation without a license issued by the NNRA.

It further recommends that an operator shall be exclusively liable for injury to any person and property upon proof that the damage was caused by a nuclear or radiological incident.

The ministry of petroleum resources is the supervising ministry of the NNRA and the minister of state for petroleum resources is the Alternate Chairman of the organisation’s governing board.

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