International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) board which is a UN body has urged the government to allow it to carry on its mandate independently without any influence or intimidation. The body is responsible for the regulation of nuclear energy use globally, and have been working with the Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) and the Radiation Protection Board (RPB) to regulate radiation related activities in Kenya, including those with sealed and unsealed radioactive sources as well as X-ray and other radiation-emitting devices.
Though responsible for issuing of license to facilities that meet the threshold, they complained about being harassed and taken to court by people who have been trying to sabotage the process. In a press conference in Nairobi, they however commended Kenya for its continued support and corporation, and hosting them as a sign of collaboration as opposed to obligation. “Kenya has demonstrated its commitment to improve the national legal and regulatory framework for radiation safety. Steps to ensure the RPB’s effective independence and complete the regulatory framework for radiation safety would help it achieve this objective,” said IRRS mission team leader Javier Zarzuela, Sub-director of Operational Radiation Protection at Spain’s Nuclear Safety Council.The board which has being operating under the Ministry of Health has called for support from the government and all stakeholders in order to bring measures that will guarantee radiation safety to the public. “I welcome Kenya’s decision to invite the IRRS mission. I’m confident that its recommendations and suggestions, when implemented, will contribute to a significant strengthening of the country’s regulatory framework for radiation safety,” said Peter Johnston, Director of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety in the IAEA Department of Nuclear Safety and Security.
The Agency was in Kenya through invitation to inspect the standards, provide more regulations, and review the laws that regulate all radiation-related facilities and activities in the country.
“Our Kenyan hosts did an excellent job in preparing for the mission and cooperated fully with the IRRS team in a very open and transparent manner,” said Javier Zarzuela.
Kenya uses radiation sources in medical, industrial and research facilities, and with a population of 44 million people is considering introduction of nuclear power to meet its growing energy demand. However, Kenya’s future nuclear energy plans were outside the scope of this IRRS mission.
The team of senior radiation safety experts made recommendations and suggestions to the Government and the RPB that will be of help in their regulatory work. In their preliminary findings, the experts praised a training initiative by the RPB for its inspectors in enforcement of the law. They noted that Kenya faces significant challenges, for example regarding the yet-to-be completed regulatory framework. The 12-members IRRS team comprised experts from France, Hungary, India, Ireland, South Africa, Spain, Sri Lanka and Zimbabwe as well three IAEA staff members.
“I thank the IAEA for allocating time and resources to undertake the mission requested by Kenya. I commend the team for their professionalism in reviewing the RPB activities against the IAEA safety standards. I am confident that when the team’s recommendations and suggestions are implemented, the RPB will be stronger and more effective in carrying out its mandate of protecting Kenyans from harmful effects of ionizing radiation,” said Arthur Omondi Koteng, Assistant Chief Radiation Protection Officer of the RPB.