A team of experts from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) that visited Botswan recently says the country has extensively enhanced its regulatory framework for nuclear and radiation safety. The Director of IAEA’s Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety Peter Johnston said, “I would like to commend the Government of Botswana for being the first African Member State to invite a second IRRS mission within 10 years, which is in-line with international best practice,” adding that the country has made considerable progress since the first IRRS mission in 2008. However, the team also said there is still room for improvement and urged the country to ensure that there is effective oversight of all its facilities and activities. They also said the country is still having problems with the effective regulation of the use of ionizing radiation sources. In Botswana, the Radiation Protection Board (RPB) is responsible for making regulatory decisions, which are implemented by the Radiation Protection Inspectorate (RPI) of the Ministry of Tertiary Education, Research, Science and Technology.
Botswana uses radiation sources in medical and industrial applications and also in science and research. The country is also advancing in its quest to mine uranium. Ireland’s Environmental Protection Agency team leader Tanya Kenny, said the recommendations they gave to the Botswana government will ensure long term safety of citizens and the environment. Some of the recommendations made include: Government should establish a national policy and a strategy for radioactive waste management that includes decommissioning, remediation and disposal, ensure that the legal and regulatory framework enables the RPB’s effective independence, and develop an emergency plan at the national level to address nuclear and radiological emergencies. They also encouraged the Radiation Protection Board to review and update regulations and guides to ensure consistency with the latest IAEA safety standards.