Uganda's Atomic Energy Council Launched

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Uganda has taken another step towards the peaceful use of atomic or nuclear energy with the inauguration of the Atomic Energy Council. The five-member Council is headed by Dr Akisophel Kisolo, a Makerere University lecturer with 20 years of experience in nuclear and radiation physics and current head of the National Radiation Protection Service. The other members who include Rosemary Byanyima, Maxwell Otim and Kirya Kabanda are also experts in radiology, radiation sciences, biomedical sciences and engineering. The Council, created under the Atomic Energy Act 2008, is primarily charged to regulate the usage of ionizing radiation in areas like disease diagnosis, cancer treatment, agriculture, water technology, peaceful power generation, oil exploration and mining. Peter Lokeris, the State Minister for Mineral Development, launched the Council this afternoon: //Cue in: The Atomic Energy # Cue out: # operationalise the Act"// Kisolo, the Council Chair, said in principle Uganda already uses nuclear sources like the x-rays and the nuclear unit at Mulago Hospital. He says what remains is now the regulation of nuclear energy for the protection and safety of Ugandans and the environment. //Cue in: We're not going # Cue out: # is our job"// Kisolo said their brief includes establishing a secretariat and a mechanism for nuclear use, licensing, notification, safety, storage, disposal, inventory of nuclear sources and contact points. The Council would also control the movement of nuclear sources, decide on emergency movements, and monitor illicit movements of dirty nuclear sources, particularly to avert terror threats. Kisolo said there is no boundary for the effects of any radiation misuse, adding that a nuclear accident anywhere is an accident anywhere, hence the need for its regulation. Simon D'Ujanga, the State Minister for Energy, said the long-term objective is to develop nuclear power in order to address the shortfall in energy and for peaceful purposes, not weapons of mass destruction. Being a renewable energy, D'Ujanga said nuclear power would also help in protection of the environment. He said Uganda would also not be used as a dumping ground for nuclear wastes, known as u-wastes, from the West. Fred Kabagambe Kaliisa, the energy permanent secretary, said Atomic Energy Council, would have a string of capacity, protection and safety support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and the US National Nuclear Science Administration.