An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) team of experts said Tanzania’s Atomic Energy Commission (TAEC) faced several challenges in building an independent nuclear regulator, while also noting that the Commission has established a comprehensive education system.
The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team concluded a 10-day mission to assess the regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety in United Republic of Tanzania.
“Tanzania’s regulator faces many challenges that also provide opportunities,” said team leader Tom Ryan, Head of the Radiation Protection Regulatory Programme at Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency. “With strong commitment from the Government and by tackling the challenges, the regulator has an opportunity to become an independent, strong and effective body.”
IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national nuclear regulatory infrastructure, while recognising the ultimate responsibility of each State to ensure nuclear safety.
Tanzania has no power or research reactors, but plans to start mining uranium and uses radiation in medicine and industry.
The team of experts made recommendations and suggestions to the Government and TAEC to help them improve the country’s legal and regulatory framework and functions in line with IAEA Safety Standards.
They said in their preliminary findings that Tanzania needs to establish an independent regulatory body with responsibility for controlling all radiation facilities and activities in the country. TAEC urgently needs to bring all unlicensed facilities using radiation under regulatory control, the team said, adding that the responsibility and functions for regulating uranium mining must be clearly delineated between TAEC and the Ministry of Energy and Minerals.
The team noted that TAEC needs to update the country’s legislative and regulatory framework, develop and implement an integrated management system and use a graded approach that adapts the level of regulation to the level of associated risk.
The 13-member IRRS team comprised experts from Australia, Belgium, Ireland, Kenya, Nigeria, Pakistan and Zimbabwe as well as six IAEA staff members.
John Mngodo, the Acting Permanent Secretary of the United Republic of Tanzania’s Ministry of Communication, Science and Technology, underlined the Government’s commitment to improve radiation safety regulation as recommended by the team and said the IRRS mission would “remain in the history of regulatory development in the country”.
The team observed regulatory activities and held interviews and discussions with TAEC staff. Team members also visited two medical facilities and one industrial site that use radioactive sources.
The team noted that TAEC has established a comprehensive system of academic education in nuclear sciences and technologies, which contributes to regulatory staff’s education.
The mission provided recommendations and suggestions for improvements, including:
• The national radiation safety policy and strategy should be revised in line with international safety standards
• TAEC’s staff with regulatory responsibilities should receive practical training to develop and maintain skills that enable them to perform their duties effectively
• Potential conflicts of interest that could arise from providing technical radiation safety services while conducting inspections should be prevented
• License applicants should submit a detailed demonstration of safety that should be assessed as part of the authorisation process
The final mission report will be provided to the Government in about three months.