DOH radiation safety to merge with Nuclear Regulator

NNR CEO Dr Tyobeka. An international report confirms that his team has sufficient radiation safety capacity.
NNR CEO Dr Tyobeka. An international report confirms that his team has sufficient radiation safety capacity.

The Department of Health Directorate of Radiation Control could merge its radiation safety functions with the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR).

The move has found support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission for Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS), which reported that South African radiation safety needed improvement.

The mission noted the relative independence of radiation safety regulation in South Africa, as a point of concern, implying potential interference between government and the regulator.

A single radiation safety regulator could improve South Africa’s general nuclear energy capacity.

NNR CEO Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka said they were in policy discussion with the DOH Directorate of Radiation Control, as well as the director-general and deputy director-general of the Department of Health.

The Department of Health had conceded there were serious capacity problems with radiation safety control. Discussions are also underway with the Department of Energy, and a steering committee for the potential nuclear safety regulator merger was set up, reported Engineering News.

NNR could manage the SA nuclear safety programme

There are also internal discussions on harmonising the nuclear regulatory framework, in anticipation of a nuclear energy programme (see an earlier report on nuclear safety, citing Necsa, on, here:

Nuclear power training plan is back on the boil

The international report implies some criticism of the SA Department of Health’s Directorate of Radiation Control.

USA Nuclear Regulatory Commission operations executive director Victor McCree filed the peer report, at the invitation of South Africa. He said the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) was “very competent and strong, with capable resources,” reported ESI Africa.

McCree confirmed the SA Department of Health’s internal assessment that it could improve its capacity and capability.

IAEA Nuclear Installation Safety Division director Greg Rzentkowski, said the IAEA regularly facilitated peer reviews by member countries, to maintain national and international radiation exposure safety levels.

“We did not identify any incidents or trends to suggest a public radiation health and safety concern,” said McCree. “There is an opportunity to strengthen the framework for radiation safety oversight in South Africa, including organisational structure and funding.”

  • Sources: ESI Africa. Engineering news.
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Edmond Furter

Editor at
Edmond Furter is the editor of He is a freelance technical journalist, and has won six journalism awards. He specialises in industrial, business, and cultural content in web, journal, and book formats.

One thought on “DOH radiation safety to merge with Nuclear Regulator

  1. The Portfolio Committee on Energy may call Eskom and the Department of Energy (DOE) to Parliament to respond to the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) findings on the least cost energy scenario models.
    The total cost of power generation for the DOE’s draft IRP 2016 base case will be R86 billion per year, which is more expensive than the least cost scenario from the CSIR’s least cost model by 2050, excluding the cost of CO2.
    The models take the similar costs and inputs into account. It indicates that by 2050, the least cost model will have a 79% of energy mix from solar and wind while there will be no nuclear. It also predicts a reduced carbon footprint.
    The main difference lies in the limitations on renewables that the draft 2016 IRP utilises. It places a fixed unreasonable limitation on renewables that does not increase as the demand for energy increases. This is not used in the CSIR model, said the DA.
    The DOE base case also utilises a projection on the costs of wind and solar that is above the 2010 draft IRP and above actual figures from the latest rounds of the IPP.
    These results using the same inputs and timeframes as the department and using the same software package, blows a hole in the department and Eskom’s plans to build nuclear, said the DA.
    Meanwhile the state needs R28 billion more income for a fiscal gap.

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