The role of a nuclear regulatory authority in national dev’t

Ghana saw the birth of an independent Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NRA) when the Nuclear Regulatory Authority Act, 2015 Act 895 was passed in August 2015.

This was followed by the transfer of some Staff of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission to the Authority to form its nucleus on January 11, 2016 – with Prof. Geoffrey Emi-Reynolds as the first Ag. Director-General.

To top it up, the Pioneer Board of the NRA was inaugurated on January 14, 2016 at the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology and Innovation (MESTI) Conference Room with Prof. Albert K. Fiadjoe as the Board Chairman.

Although inauguration of the pioneer NRA Board was without pomp and pageantry, it was historical and signified that Ghana was undeniably considering the use of nuclear technology to generate electricity as part of its energy mix, as was first considered by Osagyefo Dr. Kwame Nkrumah, among other things.

Its birth also echoes the fact that the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) – the nuclear watchdog of the United Nations (UN) – consents that Ghana, which has been a member-state of the IAEA since 1960, establishes an independent regulatory body as a means of advancing the peaceful use of nuclear science and technology and related technologies in the country.

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Powers of the Nuclear Regulatory Authority

By this Act, the NRA is the sole competent authority to control the use of radioactive and nuclear materials in Ghana.

In other words, it has the power to licence, authorise and inspect the use of radiation-emitting devices, radioactive sources and nuclear materials, as well as ensure Enforcement when it comes to issues of compliance in Ghana.

This implies that the Authority has the power to:

  • develop regulations applicable to authorisations for radiation, and establish relevant radiation protection and safety requirements;
  • assess and review authorisation applications for the possession and use of radiation-emitting devices, radioactive sources and nuclear materials;
  • define in the regulations and in conditions applied to authorisations the detailed obligations placed on those who possess and use radiation emitting devices, radioactive sources and nuclear materials;
  • require the calibration of instruments used to monitor controlled areas and the status of radiation-emitting devices, radioactive sources and nuclear materials used for operation.
  • periodically renew authorisations at a frequency based on safety criteria determined by the Authority;
  • prescribe the nature of personal radiation monitoring; the reporting and record-keeping requirements and the authorisation of monitoring service providers;
  • inspect facilities (by authorized persons) including access to all relevant equipment, personnel and records;
  • require the reporting of incidents, accidents and abnormal radiation exposures to the Authority;
  • assess the facility, equipment and work practices for compliance with the applicable regulations and the conditions specified in authorizations;
  • take appropriate action to enforce the regulatory requirements and conditions of authorization, and to protect the health and safety of workers and the public.
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The Act that establishes the Nuclear Regulatory Authority enables it to suspend or revoke an authorisation where there is evidence that there has been a serious breach of the regulations; and/or the Authority believes that persons may be at unnecessary risk; or the conditions of the licence have not been followed or there has been a failure to take prescribed corrective action within a reasonable time. It also states a range of other penalties appropriate to an alleged offence.

The Authority is located on the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission premises behind the Kwabenya District Police Station.

The author is with the Nuclear Regulatory Authority

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