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IAEA Mission Concludes Peer Review of Zimbabwe's Radiation Regulatory Framework

Harare, Zimbabwe

Senior international nuclear safety and radiation protection experts today concluded a 10-day International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to review the regulatory framework for radiation safety in Zimbabwe.

The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team made recommendations and suggestions to the Government and the Radiation Protection Authority of Zimbabwe (RPAZ) to help them strengthen the effectiveness of the country’s regulatory framework and functions in line with IAEA Safety Standards.

Denis Flory, IAEA Deputy Director General and Head of the Department of Nuclear Safety and Security, said in a message conveyed at the mission’s closing meeting that Zimbabwe’s invitation to host the mission demonstrated its dedication to improve radiation and nuclear safety, and to learn from international experience.

Patricia Holahan of the United States Nuclear Regulatory Commission headed the 10-member review team, which comprised experts from Belgium, Hungary, Namibia, Nigeria and Sweden, as well as three IAEA staff members.

“Acting since 2012 as an independent regulatory body, RPAZ has implemented its regulatory function effectively and efficiently in the last few years,” Ms Holahan said. “It is moving in the right direction in strengthening the regulatory processes and improving the management of radiation safety in Zimbabwe.”

The mission took place at the invitation of Zimbabwe’s Government. It included site visits to observe inspections as well as interviews and discussions with staff from RPAZ and other organizations.

Ntok Ndllovu, Chairman of RPAZ’s Board, said: “The IRRS mission’s recommendations and suggestions will help RPAZ in strengthening its regulatory infrastructure and framework in line with international safety standards and good practices observed in other regulatory authorities.”

The authority is working on issues identified by the IRRS team as main challenges in coming years, including the need to update the legislative and regulatory framework and develop new regulations and guides; the need to further develop and implement its integrated management system, and to secure sufficient resources to strengthen its infrastructure and implement its strategic plans.

Good practices identified by the mission comprised the following:

  • RPAZ’s independence has been strengthened by a reform that made the authority report directly to the Office of the President and Cabinet instead of the Ministry of Health and Child Welfare; and   
  • RPAZ hired a Corporate Communications Officer to communicate with all interested parties.

The mission identified issues in need of attention or improvement, including the following:

  • A national policy and strategy for safety should be established, as well as a policy that includes financial provisions for the decommissioning of facilities and the safe management and disposal of radioactive waste;
  • All regulatory activities should take the magnitude of hazards involved, the characteristics of the facility and other factors into account;
  • Formal co-operation with national authorities that are responsible for radiation safety and emergency response should be established; and
  • Guides for all regulated practices should be developed.

The final mission report will be provided to Zimbabwe’s Government in about three months.

About IRRS Missions

IRRS missions are designed to strengthen and enhance the effectiveness of the national nuclear regulatory infrastructure, while recognizing the ultimate responsibility of each State to ensure safety in this area. This is done through consideration of regulatory, technical and policy issues, with comparisons against IAEA safety standards, and, where appropriate, good practices elsewhere.

More information about IRRS missions is available on the IAEA Website.

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