17 November 2008 – In an ongoing bid to improve the electricity supply in Nigeria and meet President Yar’Adua’s Vision 20-20, a Nuclear transport workshop was held in Nigeria recently.
The workshop was organised by the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA), along with the Ministry of Transport, Interntional Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the United States Departement of Energy (DOE).
DOE representative, Mark Hawk, gave assurances of the DOE and IAEA’s readiness to support Nigeria with training, while Mr Vincent Nkong Njock of the IAEA told attendees at the workshop: "in the wake of many events that happened worldwide in 2001 which prompted the IAEA and member-states alike to act swiftly by coordinating the response of the international community to the threats caused by illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive materials and it is also expected to foster a better understanding of the nature of the threats of potential malevolent use, on ways to diminish the likelihood of such threats occurring and on the necessary measures for preparedness and response in case they do actually occur."
The aim of the workshop was to "sensitise handlers, transporters, Clearing and Forwarding agents and users of radiation sources on ensuring safety and security during transportation in accordance with the provisions of the Act and other regulations made pursuant to it" said Dr John Abolurin, representative for the National Security and Civil Defence Corps.
He continued that in 2003 "we moved fissile materials to the Research Reactor in Zaria. Furthermore, in 2006, we also moved more than 300,000 Ci of radioactive materials to the Gamma Irradiation Facility in Sheda. Additionally, many high-risk radioactive sources are transported around the country on a daily basis for various uses especially in the petroleum industry, which is the largest importer and user of radioactive materials in the country. Thus, the role of transporters will ever become more crucial."
NNRA Director General, Prof Shamsideen Elegba said that this was in all in preparation of Nigira launching a successful nuclear power project.
According to the NNRA "Our national experience since the inception of the agency has shown that radiological incidents and accidents, especially loss of control of radioactive sources, have occurred most frequently during transportation. This thus forms the weakest link in the chain of Import-Export-Use-Transport-Export of radioactive sources."