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 Sheqafrica.com, here:
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. Sheqafrica.com.