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25.08.2004 Education

Step up education on radiological accidents

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Accra, Aug. 25, GNA - The Ministry of The Interior on Wednesday expressed concern about the limited knowledge of the public in the handling of nuclear and radiological accidents and urged the National Disaster Management Organisation (NADMO) to step up its educational campaign on the topic.

In a speech reads for the Sector Minister, Mr Hackman Owusu-Agyeman, he said one nuclear or radiological accident could cause irreparable damage to life and the environment that could affect generations yet unborn. Addressing about 40 participants attending a three-day workshop on "Radiological Emergency Planning and Response" that opened at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) at Kwabenya, near Accra, Mr Owusu-Agyeman said records of radiological accidents across the world had been catastrophic to the nations involved.

The workshop is being organised by NADMO and GAEC in collaboration with the International Atomic Energy Agency with participants drawn from key institutions that use high-risk radiation materials such as the Ministry of Health and Ministry of Information, Environmental Protection Agency, Police, Ghana National Fire Service and Customs, Excise and Preventive Service (CEPS).

Mr Owusu-Agyeman said most of the recorded radiological catastrophes that occurred in the world were due to negligence and the lack of knowledge of the danger that radioactive materials posed to the public. He said: "Ghana now has a number of radioactive sources from activities in the field of research, medicine, mining, industry and commerce," adding that the knowledge of the public with respect to the dangers was 'unfortunately very limited'.

The safety of people of Ghana, from the harmful effects of radioactive substances depended largely on the resourcefulness and the efficiency of Radiation Protection Institute (RPI) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission. The Minister said: "The Institute and NADMO, therefore, have the onerous responsibility of having to educate the nation about this specialized hazard." That awareness creation crusade could only succeed if the persons to undertake it were educated about the danger associated with the materials.

Mr Owusu-Agyeman urged participants to be united with the aim of preventing disasters and to ensure that if a disaster struck, they would be properly managed. Professor Edward H. K. Akaho, Director General, GAEC, said it was becoming increasingly evident that practices involving the use of ionizing radiation in recent times all over the world was facing very challenging situation and it required that a systematic approach was used to train people on radioactive activities.

Brigadier Joseph Odei, National Coordinator of NADMO, said the workshop was to sensitise stakeholders and institutions and to clarify their roles in radiological risk reduction. "The plan and procedures being drawn at this workshop shall be tested and rehearsed to ensure its workability," he said.

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