By Emmanuel Addeh
The Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), has ramped up its efforts to regulate the exploration, mining and milling of radioactive ores and other ores associated with the presence of harmful substances.
Director General of the NNRA, Dr. Yau Idris, who disclosed this during a courtesy visit to the Permanent Secretary of the Ecological Funds Office, Dr Habiba Lawal in Abuja, said the call to other government agencies was to ensure better service delivery to the nation.
He solicited for collaboration from the agency to enable NNRA to carry out its mandate of regulating harmful ores, thereby protecting life, health, property and the environment from the dangerous effects of ionising radiation, amongst others.
Idris cited an instance in 2006, where the NNRA through the ecological fund conducted a study on Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) which happened as a result of the mining activities by companies in Jos Plateau.
He stated that the exercise had exposed about 5,000 houses which were affected by tin tailings found in materials used in building houses and thereafter removal of the NORMS by environmental officials, thereby averting more deaths.
He added that a similar exercise was conducted in the Niger Delta region with specific focus on oil and gas installations that release such materials, which ultimately led to the cleaning up of the NORMS in the region.
Permanent Secretary in the Ecological Fund office, Lawal while responding, acknowledged the vital role NNRA was playing in protecting lives and environment and commended the effort of the authority.
She stated that the existence of such projects could have averted the mysterious deaths that occurred in Zamfara State in 2010.
Lawal added that though grants are competitive to obtain, the authority’s proposal will be presented to the president at the next meeting in December, urging NNRA to remain steadfast in its efforts to safeguard lives and the environment from the harmful effects of ionising radiation.
Meanwhile, the Senate Committee on Petroleum Resources (Upstream) led by its Chairman , Senator Bassey Akpan, has engaged the NNRA on the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act No. 19, (Repeal and Re-enactment) Bill,2020.
Idris, who led the management staff of the authority to the hearing, explained that the bill seeks to re-establish an already existing legal and regulatory framework for the safe application of nuclear technology.
He added that it will further reposition the NNRA by strengthening its regulatory functions, thereby enabling Nigeria meet its national and international obligations on the peaceful uses of nuclear technology.