MAPUTO, The Mozambican parliament, the Assembly of the Republic, has unanimously passed the first reading of a government Bill on atomic energy, establishing the legal regime for the safe and peaceful use of nuclear energy in Mozambique.

Introducing the Bill last Friday, Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Leticia Klemens said it was intended to protect individuals, property and the environment from any accident, or act of sabotage, involving radioactive material.

The Bill, she added, followed standards set by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), and would be enforced by Mozambique’s own National Atomic Energy Agency (ANEA), which has yet to be set up.

Under the Bill, activities involving radioactive materials may be licensed, but only if the benefits they produce outweigh any potential damage they may cause. Protective measures must ensure that the doses of radiation and the number of people exposed to radiation are as low as possible. No person should be subjected to unacceptable risks arising from exposure to radiation.

The Bill bans the import, for any purpose, of radioactive waste, and the deliberate addition of radioactive substances in the production of food, toys and cosmetics. There is also a blanket ban on the manufacture or acquisition of any nuclear weapons.

Bodies licensed to handle radioactive material must also take responsibility for the security of radioactive waste, and ensure that the wastes are disposed of safely.