Radiation warning system urged for GCC
Manama, August 24, 2008
Bahrain and other GCC countries are being urged to instal special nuclear radiation detectors and early-warning systems.
They should also prepare themselves for any unexpected incident by establishing their own research centres and training their national forces in the field of nuclear radiation emergencies, said Marine Emergency Mutual Aid Centre (Memac) director Captain Abdul Monem Al Janahi.
He said countries must join international conventions and protocols besides conducting research and exchanging information, technology and expertise, to be ready for emergencies.
A set of regional co-operation and co-ordination agreements should also be established.
Memac's call follows an announcement that Bahrain and other countries in the region are planning to pursue nuclear energy.
In May, Oil and Gas Affairs Minister and National Oil and Gas Authority (Noga) chairman Dr Abdulhussain Mirza announced that Bahrain was planning to build a nuclear power plant to meet future energy needs, but it would take at least a decade to complete.
Last October, His Majesty King Hamad revealed that Bahrain was working with its GCC neighbours to introduce nuclear energy to benefit the economy and citizens and had joined the Inter-national Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
'There are several early-warning systems and detectors in some of our member states and they are very effective precaution tools,' Capt Al Janahi told the Gulf Daily News, our sister publication.
'The Kuwait North Site Station, for example, was able to detect the Chernobyl incident in spite of the long distance between Kuwait and Ukraine.
'So such systems are of high importance for the region, especially since we have got two 'hot spots' very close to our region: the Israeli and Iranian nuclear facilities.'
Capt Al Janahi said it was imperative that the GCC put measures in place to detect radioactive leakage, because by its nature it was very difficult to see or detect immediately.
He said once radiation was leaked the only way a country could protect itself was to evacuate the affected area.
'Radioactivity leakage will cause very severe damage to health as well as to the environment, making the polluted area impossible to live in for hundreds of years,' he said.
'We have the example of Chernobyl incident. Usually, when the leakage starts, it will spread gradually to a wide range and nothing will help to control and limit its impact.
'The only means is to stop the source of the leakage. Once the radiation is leaked, the only means for the victim state to protect itself is evacuation of the area.'
Capt Al Janahi said radiation could also leak from submarines propelled by nuclear energy.
He said although these ships and submarines were well protected, there was always risk of leakage.
'Ships and submarines should be traced whenever they transit in the region,' he said.
'The countries in the region should be provided with early-warning systems and they should continuously monitor the location of the ships and submarines.
'Special harbours for ships and submarines propelled by radioactive energy should be established far away from urban areas.'
Capt Al Janahi said because the region was heading towards the usage of nuclear energy, the Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME) Council had instructed Memac to develop an action plan for emergency preparedness and response mechanism to address radiation challenges in the region in co-operation with the IAEA.
'This means a wide range of work is to be carried out in order to prepare such an action plan, including assessment of the present situation in the region and expectations for the future,' he said.
'The plan also involves monitoring and early-warning