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IAEA Mission Says New Law Strengthens Radiation Safety in Cameroon; Identifies Areas to Further Improve the Regulatory System

75/2021
Yaoundé, Cameroon

An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission said a comprehensive new law for nuclear and radiation safety in Cameroon has significantly strengthened the country’s regulatory safety framework. The team also noted areas where challenges remain, including the need for the Government to issue and implement new regulations under the law to strengthen the regulatory body and ensure its effective independence.  

The Integrated Regulatory Review Service (IRRS) team today concluded a five- day follow-up mission to review progress in Cameroon’s implementation of recommendations and suggestions made during an initial IRRS mission in 2014. The follow-up mission was conducted at the request of the Government of Cameroon and hosted by the National Radiation Protection Agency (NRPA), the country’s regulatory body.

IRRS missions are designed to strengthen the effectiveness of the national nuclear and radiation safety regulatory infrastructure, based on IAEA safety standards and international good practices, while recognizing the responsibility of each country to ensure nuclear and radiation safety.

Cameroon utilizes radiation sources in medical and industrial applications. The mission reviewed the regulatory framework for all facilities and activities using radiation in Cameroon.

The team found that Cameroon has successfully implemented many recommended actions from the 2014 mission. “By inviting this follow-up IRRS mission, the first African nation to do so, Cameroon is demonstrating its commitment to safety. They have made impressive efforts to implement a framework that protects workers, patients, the public and the environment,” said Peter Johnston, Director of the IAEA's Division of Radiation, Transport and Waste Safety, at the exit meeting for the mission. “Cameroon has made many impactful achievements since 2014, including by establishing a radioactive waste storage facility, enhancing communication with stakeholders and strengthening the authorization system for facilities and activities”.

The IRRS team, comprised of four senior regulatory experts from Mauritius, Morocco, Qatar and Zimbabwe, and two IAEA staff members, conducted a series of interviews and discussions with NRPA staff, combined with reviews of advance reference material provided by the NRPA.

The IRRS team said Cameroon has made efforts to enhance its legal and regulatory framework to further align it with IAEA safety standards. The new law was the result of a recommended action from the 2014 mission. Its adoption in 2019 empowered NRPA to issue authorizations for the use of radioactive sources and to conduct regular inspections.

“Cameroon is heading in the right direction and the new law demonstrates the Government’s commitment to safety,” said Faradally A. Ollite, Director of the Mauritius Radiation Safety and Nuclear Security Authority and Team Leader for the mission. “It is important now that Cameroon implements the law with new regulations to ensure that the NRPA has the appropriate authority, requirements and resources to enforce the law.”

The review team also welcomed actions taken which directly tackle the recommendations of the 2014 mission, including the:

  • Establishment of a central radioactive waste storage facility.
  • Establishment of a strategy for the effective communication about radiation.
  • Establishment of a comprehensive authorization system at the NRPA for all facilities and activities.
  • Enhancement of the regulatory framework to cover occupational radiation protection and medical exposure.

The review team recommended that Cameroon continue its efforts to implement the draft regulations and provide the NRPA with the necessary human and financial resource sources to effectively carry out all its functions under the law.

The team also recommended that Cameroon:

  • Avoids potential conflict of interest between the regulatory functions and technical services provided by the NRPA.
  • Ensures consistency in the enforcement of the law and regulatory requirements.
  • Completes the development of the Integrated Management System to bring efficiencies to the NRPA.

“Cameroon has made significant efforts to strengthen radiation safety since the initial IRRS mission in 2014. We are pleased that the findings of this follow-up mission reflect our efforts to align our regulatory structures with IAEA safety standards,” said Augustin Simo, General Manager of NRPA. “Cameroon will use this opportunity to exchange views with an international team of experts to focus on issues that are important for the future development of the regulatory infrastructure.” 

The final mission report will be provided to the Government in about three months. The Government plans to make the report public.

IAEA Safety Standards

The IAEA Safety Standards provide a robust framework of fundamental principles, requirements, and guidance to ensure safety. They reflect an international consensus and serve as a global reference for protecting people and the environment from the harmful effects of ionizing radiation.

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