Republic of Botswana
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Department of Radiation Protection Inspectorate
Background

Botswana became a Member State of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on 22nd January 2002. Recognizing the importance of managing and controlling the use of nuclear technology for the benefit of the nation, Cabinet has mandated the Ministry of Communications Science and Technology (MCST) to administer to nuclear energy and radiation safety issues and matters incidental thereto. The atomic energy section within the Department of Research Science and Technology spearheaded the establishment of facilities for the implementation of the requirements related to the mandate given to MCST.

As a research coordinating department within MCST, the DRST is classified as a user of atomic energy and therefore cannot self-regulate. This meant that regulatory issues must be administered by a separate entity. In appreciation of the specialist nature of the atomic energy issues and the need to provide effective administration and control of nuclear technology and ionizing radiation safety, the Department of Radiation Protection, which will be  responsible for implementing the decisions of the Radiation Protection Board was established on 1st April 2008.

Mandate


The Department of Radiation Protection was established in April 2008. Its mandate is to administer to the safe use of atomic energy and nuclear technology. To achieve its mandate, the department is responsible for carrying out licensing and statutory inspections of all facilities that use nuclear sources and radiation generating equipment such as x-ray machines.

 As such, the department is responsible for enforcing the following:

  • Medical exposure control, which prevents possible cases of overdose to patients during cancer treatment,
  • Occupational exposure control for protecting of employees working with nuclear sources against adverse effects of radiation that can lead to cancer, sterility and other associated illnesses;
  • Public and environmental exposure control for protecting the public, flora and fauna from short as well as long term effects of ionizing radiation.
  • And emergency preparedness and response for mitigating the effects of radiological emergencies that can result in injuries to people, contamination of the environment and damage to property.
Structure

In accordance with the provisions of the Radiation Protection Act No. 22 of 2006 which came into effect on 1st April 2007, the Department consists of a Director, a Deputy director and such other officers of the Inspectorate as may be necessary for the proper performance of its functions. At full strength, the Department will consist of 30 members of staff with 15 consisting of professional staff and rest being administrative and support services personnel. The organizational structure of the department is attached at the back of this presentation as well as the functional organogram demonstrating the relational connection of MCST departments to HQ including Radiation Protection.

Purpose

Atomic energy is used beneficially and peacefully in important fields such as nuclear medicine, agriculture, food processing industries, mining, mineral exploration and civil construction. These fields are important and also exist in Botswana. The generation of electric power using nuclear energy is regarded as economic, reliable, environment friendly and the best future option to other sources of energy such as coal, petroleum and gas. It is however capital intensive in the early stages of construction.

 

In the absence of legislative framework and regulatory infrastructure, atomic energy is inherently dangerous and can seriously threaten the safety and security of any nation especially if it falls into the hands of subversive individuals. Strict control measures, sound management and effective monitoring of nuclear sources and generators is an absolute necessity. The IAEA has put in place guidelines, standards,  agreements and control mechanisms that all Member States should accede to and therefore be obliged to comply with. These are administered to and enforced by appropriately empowered institutions such as the Radiation Protection Board. The purpose of setting up the Department of Radiation Protection was to ensure that safety in the use of atomic energy is ensured and adequate protection for the environment is provided for.

 

In accordance with set guidelines by the IAEA and without loosing sight of the prevailing legislation in Member States, the Department of Radiation Protection Inspectorate, is necessary if Botswana is to benefit optimally from the use of nuclear technology. Its sole responsibility shall be to implement the decisions of the Radiation Protection Board established under the Radiation Protection Act No. 22 of 2006. Such decisions shall focus on endeavors to regulate the safe and peaceful use of atomic energy, promote and expand the contribution of atomic energy and nuclear technology to health and prosperity in Botswana.  The legislative authority to implement related statutory requirements shall be provided for by the appropriate statutory instruments which are already in place.

 

Benefits

Botswana stands to gain significantly from establishment of the Radiation Protection Inspectorate because the IAEA can only provide assistance in the use of atomic energy provided that a legislative framework and regulatory infrastructure is in place. This condition has been met.

Areas in which Botswana is already being assisted or stand to benefit include :

·         Nuclear medicine – radiotherapy and brachytherapy for treatment of cervical cancer; X-rays, dentistry and numerous other life saving activities

·         Agriculture – Sterile Insect Techniques (SIT) utilized in controlling the fruit fly and tsetse-fly infestation with the potential to be equally applied effectively to control other harmful pests or vectors; animal disease control and artificial insemination.

·         Food and Nutrition – Undertake research in nutrition intervention techniques using stable isotopes; These techniques are important for effective fight against the HIV/AIDS scourge.

·         Sterilization of grains and other foods to eliminate harmful microorganisms and destroy pests. In the near future, countries that do not have irradiators will not be able to export their produce to countries overseas due to stringent demands to eliminate microorganisms.

·         Water and mineral resources- applications in mineral exploration, ore sample analysis, well logging and water pollution.

·         Research institutions such as the University of Botswana and other institutions will have access to research grants and information necessary for the promotion of beneficial and peaceful use of nuclear technology.

 

The increasing concern on global warming is tightening restrictions on the use of coal and other potential pollutants to the atmosphere. The use of nuclear power for generating electricity is becoming the likely option for the future because it is clean, environment friendly and economical when used in accordance with set international standards.

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