Statement by Ms. Saima Sayed, Counsellor Permanent Mission of Pakistan to the United Nations in the Special Political and Decolonization (Fourth Committee) on “Effects of Atomic Radiation” (New York - 23 October 2015)

Mr. Chairman,

I would like to begin by conveying my delegation’s appreciation for the work done by the United Nations Scientific Committee on the Effects of Atomic Radiation during it 62 Session in July this year. Pakistan being a member of this committee is fully cognizant of the important role this committee is playing in disseminating knowledge and understanding of the levels, effects and risks of radiation.

Mr. Chairman,

We are well aware of the potential uses and benefits of nuclear technology. Scientists, researchers all over the world are trying to find ways to harness this energy. However, after disastrous accidents we have also become aware of its devastating negative side effects. Nevertheless, instead of shunning nuclear energy as dangerous, nations are now sensitized to the need for extreme caution while handling this resource. The use of nuclear technology is rapidly increasing for the production of electricity and its applications using radioactive sources in health, agriculture, industry, research and development.

In order to regulate facilities and activities utilizing these technologies, Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) has been working in the country as an independent regulatory body to ensure nuclear and radiation safety regime and to supervise all matters pertaining to nuclear installations and radiation facilities in the country since 2001. PNRA is making significant efforts at national level to contain the effects of atomic radiation.

PNRA maintains a database of occupational exposures to radiation workers in the country. If any case of overexposure to a radiation worker is identified, the licensee is asked for investigation and the results of these investigation assist in fine tuning the existing safeguards to avoid a recurrence of similar overexposure incidents. PNRA is also making efforts to reduce occupational exposure to radiation workers.

Protection of patients is an essential part of radiation protection. PNRA is working on a pilot project for the assessment of radiation doses received by patients during interventional cardiology/angiographic procedures.

PNRA has given special attention towards developing a system of emergency preparedness and response to nuclear or radiological emergencies. PNRA is a National Warning Point and Competent Authority designated under early Notification and Assistance Conventions for coordination of nuclear or radiological emergencies at national and international level. Pakistan regularly participates in emergency exercises conducted by IAEA to test arrangements made under these conventions.

The Emergency Preparedness and Review (EPREV) is an effective tool for appraisal of national capabilities for emergency preparedness and response for nuclear or radiological emergencies. Pakistan has registered its national assistance capabilities in the IAEA Response and Assistance Network (RANET). Pakistan appreciates and supports the Agency’s efforts to assist Member States in developing and improving preparedness and response capabilities for nuclear and radiological incidents and emergencies.

Mr. Chairman,

Ensuring safety of the workers, public and environment from the hazards of atomic radiation is a challenging responsibility for such a regulatory body and requires sufficient number of highly skilled professionals with appropriate academic qualification and adequate technical experience. Pakistan has undertaken several steps for the capacity building of all concerned stakeholders in nuclear/radiation safety, radiation protection and security of nuclear and radioactive material. For this purpose a Centre of Excellence has been established for training in nuclear security, nuclear safety and regulatory aspects.

PNRA has set up protection level calibration laboratories in Karachi, Islamabad and Chashma site. These laboratories are serving to strengthen the radiation protection infrastructure and technical capabilities for the Safety of Workers, Patients and the Public by monitoring the radiation workers, working at different radiation facilities.

Mr. Chairman,

PNRA has established National Environmental Radioactivity Surveillance Program (NERSP) laboratories at Karachi, Islamabad and Chashma site. PNRA has initiated estimation of doses due to radon in dwellings, mines and workplaces in the country. In addition to this, PNRA is also focusing on the assessment of doses due to Naturally Occurring Radioactive Materials (NORM) from different NORM producing industries.

Mr. Chairman,

Pakistan is fully aware of the significance for understanding and sensitivity towards the need for fool proof protective and safety measures while handling this extremely volatile source of energy.

Thank you.