Experts ponder how to avoid accidents at nuclear facilities – The Sun Nigeria
Since Noah EbijeKaduna
For For three days, experts from energy research centers across the country and the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) reflected on the challenges of nuclear facilities that could lead to emergencies and accidents in the country.
It was at one of the commission’s training workshops after 18 years of operating the country’s nuclear facilities, aimed at ensuring the continued safety and security of nuclear facilities in Nigeria.
At the end of the workshop, which was held at the Center for Energy Research and Training (CERT), Zaria, Kaduna State, the experts made observations and recommendations.
The workshop was declared open by NAEC Chairman and CEO, Professor Yusuf Ahmed, with a tour of some of the nuclear facilities at the training center.
One of the workshop presenters, MO Oladipo, from CERT, spoke about nuclear safety and security in emergencies, explaining “emergency” as a sudden and unexpected situation, which requires immediate action. .
Oladipo noted that the emergency could arise from a security threat or breach, a fire and the release of toxic and flammable gases.
He added that damage from fuel, radioactive spills that release radioactivity into buildings could also cause an emergency.
He said: ‘It is a punishable offense not to leave the building and adjacent facilities in an emergency.
However, the expert revealed that there are emergency plans for the victims, which he said include medical assistance for those infected.
He said arrangements have been made with Ahmadu Bello University Hospital (ABUTH), Shika, Zaria, for the treatment of contaminated and non-contaminated casualties.
Speaking on the safety considerations when operating the tandem accelerator of nuclear facilities, Mr. Ikechi Eusebius Obiajunwa and Mr. David Ayo Pelemo from the Center for Energy Research and Development at Ile-Ife, in the Osun State said the tandem accelerator includes hardware and software for computer control of the complete accelerator system, specifically customized for each system configuration. They added that it could be applied in agricultural activities for the analysis of soil and plants, leaves, fruits and seeds.
They also spoke about safety considerations when analyzing biomedical/biological samples, warning that “serious hazards are associated with this equipment”.
They described the first precautions to be taken during the analysis, explaining that “all personnel involved with this accelerator system must carefully study the instructions for each operation, maintenance and dismantling of the system”.
Obiajunwa and Pelemo, while talking about the do’s and don’ts hazardous electrical voltage and pressurized liquids, emphasizes safety considerations.
“Read all instruction manuals carefully, follow all instructions and warnings exactly, study security keys and lockout instructions, communicate with others at your site, follow procedures on instruction and training.
“Do not operate or maintain equipment without instruction, maintain pressure equipment while connected, modify equipment or circumvent safety precautions, work alone “, they pointed out.
Another safety consideration, experts said, was safety cages, “where appropriate, system components operating at hazardous voltages are surrounded by safety cages made up of strong fencing and use safety measures, including automatic grounding bars operated by doors, keyed interlocking doors, safety interlocking key switches at control desk and others.
“Never operate high voltage parts of equipment without the safety cage fully assembled and securely fastened to the floor. Ground wires must be connected to all panels, to the automatic ground bar, and tied to a system safety ground.
“Never try to circumvent or circumvent the automatic grounding bar or safety interlock switches. Make sure you are always aware of the location of emergency stop switches which may be needed in an emergency.”
They added that “when entry to safety cages is required, the following steps should be taken: First, always turn off the high voltage power supply with the control system. If applicable, turn the key switch and remove the control console panel key. This forces an additional shutdown of the high voltage power supply. Keep this key with you during the entire period of service or lock it in a safe place.
“Service operations should only be carried out by properly trained and experienced technicians. Never remove warning labels from applicable units. Replace lost or damaged labels immediately. Allow sufficient time for affected units to cool down after use. »
In his welcoming remarks shortly before declaring the workshop open, Professor Ahmed explained that the main objective of any national nuclear energy program rests on the safety and protection of the lives of workers, people and the environment. environment wherever such nuclear installations are operated.
Ahmed, who was represented by Professor Abdullahi Mati, director of the commission, said that the security and safety of nuclear installations should not be played around with, stressing that great lessons should be learned from the 1979 nuclear accidents in the States. States, from 1986 in Ukraine and 2011 in Japan.
CERT Director Professor Sunday Jonah stressed the need to protect nuclear facilities from malicious people in society, adding that the training workshop was timely.
According to him, “the cardinal objective of any national nuclear energy program rests on the safety and protection of the lives of workers, people and the environment wherever such nuclear installations are operated.
“Accordingly, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) defines nuclear safety as “the achievement of appropriate operating conditions, the prevention of accidents or the mitigation of the consequences of accidents, resulting in the protection of workers, of the public and the environment against undue radiological risks. “Based on the above, the nuclear sector requires and engages a highly technical and skilled workforce and it remains the most regulated in the world. While considering the challenges of preventing and mitigating nuclear accidents and the resulting radiation effects, the need to train and retrain personnel cannot be overstated.
“The deployment of nuclear energy for national socio-economic development is not new and Nigeria has benefited from the applications of nuclear and other radioactive substances for scientific research, education and training as well as for specialized uses such as medicine, industry and agriculture In these various fields of application, the radiological risks that may arise for workers, the public and the environment must be assessed and controlled.
“A brief journey through the history of the nuclear industry shows that among its peers in nuclear safety, security and safeguards, nuclear security considerations were at the forefront.
“In the future, nuclear safety issues will receive the greatest attention due to their cross-border nature, their impact on the environment and the lengthy remediation process they involve each time they arise.
“In order to prevent future occurrences, the international community, through the IAEA, ensures that all national nuclear safety regimes are strengthened through the establishment of competent agencies such as the NAEC and the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA) with independent mandates and responsibilities.
“Nigeria has been operating its nuclear and radiological facilities for over 18 years without incident. The 30 kW Miniature Neutron Source Research Reactor, otherwise known as NIRR-1, reached criticality and was commissioned on February 3, 2004.
“Not to mention the gamma cameras, linear accelerators and other radiation therapy equipment that are used daily in various hospitals across the country for the diagnosis and treatment of cancer. “At this point, it is fitting to say that these laudable achievements are recognized and highly recommended by the IAEA.
“It is in this context, the need to ensure the continuum of a workplace safety culture, that the commission is organizing this workshop.
“This is to deepen our commitment to a safe and secure work ethic and to the core principle of nuclear knowledge management.
“The tripod of nuclear safety, security and safeguards is the foundation upon which all national nuclear energy programs rest. To that end, issues concerning these three elements are usually rarely discussed in isolation. »