TAEC warns unauthorised importers of radioactive minerals

THE Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission (TAEC) has warned importers of unauthorised radioactive minerals, saying that the risk facing tough legal action.

Director General of TAEC Lazaro Busagala said there has been an increasing wave of unauthorised importation of various radioactive minerals, which poses a threat to national security and the health of citizens.

Prof Busagala stated that they have detected and legally dealt with a total of 17 incidents of such illegal activities at different regions along the country’s borders.

He provided an example of a notorious incident where a resident of Dar es Salaam was caught illegally importing over 9kg of processed Uranium (U238 Uranium, 2.6× 109Bq/g), through their intelligent system.

He said that despite the vital socioeconomic benefits of radioactive minerals, including Uranium if not handled professionally, they can have negative effects on the human body such as destruction of body cells, serious eye diseases and blindness, loss of fertility and other environmental damage.

Prof Busagala made the comments recently during an event to observe the International Disaster Reduction Day, held at the national level in Dodoma.

Radioactive minerals are minerals that contain radioactive isotopes, which are atoms of an element with an unstable nucleus that decays, or breaks down, over time. This decay releases energy in the form of radiation, which can be harmful to humans.

Prof Busagala also said that during the 2021/2022 financial year, TAEC had increased inspections of imported food products to 66,609 inspections, which is a 274 per cent increase compared to the total of 7,817 inspections conducted during 2016/2017.

Tanzania has been a member of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) since January 6,1976 and has received numerous benefits through this membership, including technical and facility assistance for implementing projects in the health, agriculture, livestock and energy sectors.

TAEC is the regulatory body responsible for all atomic energy matters in the country. It runs a programme to provide necessary knowledge on the proper handling of radioactive materials to various institutions in the public and private sectors.

The programme targets institutions that use radioactive mineral technologies in their operations including those in the road construction, health and water, mining, crude oil pump construction and nuclear power generation sector.

Senior Research Officer at TAEC, Mr Jerome Mwimanzi emphasised that the handling of radioactive materials requires technological awareness and precautions to prevent environmental and human disasters.

He mentioned that there have been at least 30 cases of disasters in the past due to the illegal trafficking of radioactive sources in the country.

Mwimanzi added that illegal importation and marketing of uranium have contributed to the outbreak of dangerous disasters.

TAEC is working with other like-minded institutions to curb this trend by implementing key initiatives.

To address the situation, the Commission has developed important regulations including the Regulation on Radiation Safety in the Mining and Processing of Radioactive Ores and the Packaging and Transportation of Radioactive Materials of 2011.

Related Articles

Back to top button