General News Mon, 20 Jan 2003

Meeting On Nuclear Facilities & Terrorism Underway

African scientists and stakeholders in atomic energy are attending a five-day workshop on raising the standard of security on nuclear and radioactive facilities, with the aim of preventing the use of nuclear materials by terrorists.

The meeting, which opened in Accra on Monday, would look at safety protocols for nuclear infrastructure in Africa in order to protect the population and environment from hazards resulting from radiation and nuclear materials. It is being organized by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in collaboration with the Radiation Protection Institute of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC). The workshop follows the need to beef up security in the face of recent terrorists attacks on a number of countries including those in Africa.

The Chairman of the GAEC, Prof. Daniel Adzei Bekoe said since September 11 attacks in the United States (US), there has been global fear about the security of nuclear materials and radioactive materials in many countries in relation to the "possible use of these materials for terrorism. He said "Because radiation knows no frontiers, every country needs to appreciate the importance of safety and security of nuclear materials. Countries must demonstrate not only to their own populations, but to their neighbours and the world that strong and effective systems are in place".


Prof. Bekoe called for a strong security regime in every country in order not to weaken the chain in the global nuclear security network. He explained that Ghana has established a safety infrastructure, including legislation and regulations to govern nuclear and radiation facilities. According to Prof. Bekoe, there is technical capability to assess radiation leakage and contamination in the country. He however said that technical capability for a national response to radiological emergencies was now being developed with assistance from IAEA.

The Acting Director-General of the GAEC, Prof. Edmund Osae said due to the urgency and seriousness of the threat of terrorists to global peace and security, the US in collaboration with the IAEA, organised a workshop on emerging nuclear security issues for decision-makers. He said as a follow-up, an international conference on security of radioactive sources will be held in Vienna, Austria in March, this year.