Statement by Ms. Saima Sayed, Counsellor at the Special Political and Decolonization (Fourth) Committee on “Effects of Atomic Radiation” (28 October 2016)

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 its 63rd Session 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.

Pakistan has a robust national infrastructure for protection of the radiation workers general public and the environment. Pakistan follows best international practices for safety and security of its nuclear installations. Radioactive sources and nuclear material are being used in the country for peaceful purposes in many areas including NPPS, medical centers, agriculture centres and other R&D organizations. It is very important that these sources and technology are handled safely.

Pakistan Nuclear Regulatory Authority (PNRA) is responsible for controlling, regulating and supervising all matters related to radiation safety in all facilities operated by PAEC and other public and private sector bodies. All PAEC nuclear facilities are required to develop policies and procedures for the radiation safety of workers, public and environment from the harmful effects of radiation, in conformance with the PNRA regulatory requirements.

Mr. Chairman,

As per the radiation safety objective described in PNRA regulations, it is to be ensured that in all operational states, radiation exposure within the facilities or due to any planned release of radioactive material from the facility is kept as low as reasonably achievable and well below the prescribed limits, and to ensure mitigation of the radiological consequences.

It is also required that the measures to mitigate the radiological consequences arising from any accidents are in place and emergency plans are intact to save the public in case of accidents at NPPs and others nuclear facilities. Also, all nuclear facilities are required to develop their comprehensive Radiological Environmental Monitoring Program for regular surveillance of radiological levels around them according to the regulatory requirements. This ensures that the environment and the public around nuclear facilities are well protected from radiation exposure and hence their harmful effects.

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

Mr. Chairman,

In addition to routine and periodic inspections of PAEC nuclear facilities by PNRA, the safety oversight of these facilities is also conducted by Directorate General of Safety (DOS) which is an independent corporate safety body of PAEC. DOS conducts periodic inspections of all nuclear facilities dealing with radioactive sources. DOS also conducts inspections and maintains database of Sealed Radioactive Sources (SRF) in all PAEC facilities to ensure their safe custody and application.

Health surveillance programs for radiation workers in line with PNRA regulation have been developed and implemented in all PAEC nuclear facilities to ascertain their health and to provide free medical coverage when needed. Till date, no incident of radiation induced diseases including cancer among radiation workers has been reported from any PAEC facility.

Mr. Chairman,

Pakistan has a firm commitment to further enhance infrastructure, capacity and training of personnel involved, in collaboration with international organizations, to support radiation safety regime and to protect radiation workers, public and the environment from harmful effects of atomic radiation.

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

Thank you.