Illegal Users of Radioactive Sources Face Prosecution

2376 Views Kampala, Uganda

In short
The Atomic Energy Council, the body mandated to supervise the use of atomic energy and radioactive materials in Uganda, says it plans to prosecute individuals and organizations that are illegally possessing radiation sources.

The Atomic Energy Council, the body mandated to supervise the use of atomic energy and radioactive materials in Uganda, says it plans to prosecute individuals and organizations that are illegally possessing radiation sources.
 
Noah Deogratius Luwalira, the Chief Executive Officer of the Council, told Uganda Radio Network on Thursday that they intend to publish names of the authorised users of radioactive materials as a step towards prosecuting illegal usage.
 
He explained that only entities with licenses from the Council are authorised to handle radioactive materials. Some of the commonly used radiation sources in Uganda include diagnostic X-rays, Computed Tomography popularly called CT scans, Dental X-rays, Radiotherapy, baggage scanners and lately oil well logging by oil companies that are drilling oil wells in the country.
 
Luwalira emphasized that the Atomic Energy Act makes it illegal for anyone to use radiation sources without authorization from the Council.
 
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Some of the institutions currently licensed to use radioactive materials in Uganda include Mulago hospital, Dominion Petroleum and Joint Clinical Research Centre. Others that have been inspected to use the nuclear energy are Tullow Oil and Nakasero hospital. However, Luwalira said the council would publish a full list of all the licensed institutions soon.
 
He explained that it was important to identify all the users to minimise harm to the public by making people aware about who is using the applications illegally. He explained that it was difficult to ascertain the safety of radioactive applications unless it is inspected and certified.
 
Luwalira said it was important for members of the public to exhibit keenness in verifying whether users of the radiation sources are licensed because he said human senses are unable to detect radiation and yet its effects also take long to show depending on the degree of exposure.
 
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The Atomic Energy Council was set up following the enactment of the Atomic Energy Act 2008. The council regulates the peaceful applications of ionizing radiation in Uganda to protect individuals from the dangers that radiation causes.
 
Despite widespread use of radiation sources in the country, there has been no means of detecting the presence of radioactive materials until recently when the council acquired radiation detecting equipment. This was followed by the Uganda National Bureau of Standards whose meters, imported in December 2012, are yet to begin operating.
 
Uncontrolled exposure to ionizing radiation is reported to cause diverse harm to humans ranging from nausea, fatigue, vomiting, hair loss, diarrhoea, bleeding, and destruction of intestinal lining, internal bleeding, and damage to central nervous system, loss of consciousness and death depending on the amount of exposure.