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Wed 9 Nov 2011 12:42 PM

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UAE nuclear regulator to tighten safety enforcement

Fears raised over safety of nuclear programme after radioactive device goes missing

UAE nuclear regulator to tighten safety enforcement
The UAE is pressing ahead with plans to develop four nuclear reactors

The UAE’s nuclear regulator has no immediate concerns about the handling of radioactive equipment but will move to ensure all licensees abide by new industry regulations, its communications advisor has said.

Officials from the UAE’s Federal Authority for Nuclear Regulation (FANR) on Tuesday confirmed it had recovered a radioactive device that had been missing for several days, promoting concerns that rules regarding radioactive equipment are not tough enough.

“We will look into it. We do have ways and means to tackle this issue but it is long-term issue that we are trying to look at. [We are working on] safety and security issues together so our licensees understand these,” Ayhan Evrensel told Arabian Business.

Tougher regulations surrounding nuclear materials need to be implemented globally, he added. The agency has recently rolled out new legislation on the security of radiation sources.

“Across the world this is a phenomenon that needs to be tackled more thoroughly. Sources get lost in many countries. This is about the companies that are licensed to use these devices; they must have really a very thorough safety and security system in place.”

FANR on Oct 27 warned that a missing piece of industrial equipment, containing an Iridium (Ir-192) source used for industrial radiography, could cause injuries. The regulator confirmed Monday it had been found by a member of the public who reported it to the police.

FANR’s director of Radiation Safety Department, Dr John Loy, admitted in a statement to the UAE’s news agency, WAM, that the incident highlighted the “vulnerabilities” of its licensees.

“But it showed vulnerabilities on the part of our licensees in securing radioactive sources, and we will look into that,” he said.

“It also showed how closely local and federal authorities must work together,” he added.

The UAE is one of several countries in the Middle East looking to develop a nuclear programme in a bid to meet rising demand for electricity and boost fossil fuel exports. The world’s fourth largest oil exporter plans to build four nuclear reactors by 2020.

A number of countries worldwide have halted atomic programs after the March earthquake and tsunami in Japan caused radioactive material to be released from its Fukushima plant.

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DXB 8 years ago

No nuclear in the UAE. There is always sun. Go only for solar
it is cheaper and also safe. Safe the money what is wasted in nuclear plants.
People can safe energy with instal every where home automation.
Europa do not have so much sun and take all nuclear plants down.
UAE is not safe from earthquake.

David Walters 8 years ago

Don't silly...the sun goes away most of the day. You need real, basel0ad energy, 24/7 365. The UAE IS building solar energy but they *know* they need nuclear or suck up all their hydrocarbon sales by burning them up. Nuclear provides what they *need* not some fantasy trying to develop with solar cells. Not gonna happen, anywhere.