National Policy on Nuclear Energy
A core and central functions of the Board is to advice Government on matters relating to radiation sources and nuclear energy. Government approved the Radiation Protection Policy in 1994, which has given effect to the enactment of the Atomic Energy and Radiation Protection Act, Act No 5 of 2005 and subsequently the establishment of the Atomic Energy Board as well as the National Radiation Protection Authority. However successive developments justify a revision of the current policy, especially in the context of the on-going initiatives lead by the Ministry of Mines and Energy to develop a Nuclear Fuel Cycle Policy.
The Board in its advisory capacity has made a submission toward the development of the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Policy, and include amongst others the following key themes to be considered in the policy.
Regulation of Peaceful Applications of Nuclear Energy
The Board opines that the Atomic Energy and Radiation Protection Act is comprehensive and sufficient to regulate matters relating to radiation sources, radioactive material, and nuclear material and to ensure that Namibia meets it obligations under the existing international legal instruments relating to nuclear safety, radiation safety and nuclear weapons. In view of the aspirations to explore the options for embarking upon a nuclear power programme the Board advices that the Atomic Energy and Radiation Protection Act be amended to include regulation of nuclear installations such as a nuclear power plant; nuclear fuel fabrication plant; enrichment plant; or spent fuel storage facility.
The National Radiation Protection Authority (NRPA) was established to administer the Atomic Energy and Radiation Protection Act and thus mandated to regulate activities related to radiation sources, radioactive and nuclear material. In the event that the current Act is amended to include regulation of nuclear installations, then this arrangement may also call for the re-alignment of the NRPA to be responsive to the revised scope and mandate.
The Board has raised concern about the effective independence of the National Radiation Protection Authority as an important element for it to function with autonomy and authority in the exercise of its mandate. In the context of international recommendations and best practices the Board advices that Government considers the creation of an effectively independent Regulatory Authority, which might also call for an amendment to the current Act to create a juristic person. However such amendment should be done concurrently with the amendment to include regulation of nuclear installation. The Ministry of Health and Social Services in principle supports the effective independence of the Regulator and will propose so in the context of the national policy on the nuclear fuel cycle, which is expected to pronounce itself on these matters.
Promotion of Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy
Nuclear Energy applications have the potential to make meaningful contribution to the achievement of a number of priority areas identified in Vision 2030 and the National Developmental Plans. The Board opines that there should be a deliberate national drive that will harness and exploit the peaceful and beneficial uses of nuclear energy. In this respects the Board advocates for the enactment of a legislation and commitment of resources for the initiation and building of the pillars that will drive the efforts for the promotion of peaceful applications of nuclear energy. This may include the creation of a State entity mandated primarily with the function to enhance the peacefully applications of nuclear energy. The scope of such an organization may include such matters as research, development, training, education, nuclear fuel cycle activities; and non-nuclear fuel cycle activities such as those in health, agriculture and other industries.