The Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has stepped up security at all nuclear facilities and radiation centres across the country to counter any possible threats from terrorist groups.
Apart from following strict safety measures at the nuclear facilities, the government has also tightened the security of the radiating material transported to various parts of the country. Several steps have been taken — from police registration to closely monitored GPS-enabled vehicles for Category 1 and Category 2 radiation material, official sources told The Sunday Guardian.
The government has made it mandatory to fit GPS on each vehicle transporting Category 1 and Category 2 nuclear material to different facilities. It has also made it compulsory for all radiation centres to register themselves to the nearby police stations, without which clearance will not be granted to them. The measures come as an addition to the already tight nuclear safety regulations to be followed by each facility housing radiation material. The movement of all the vehicles carrying radioactive material is monitored closely by various security agencies.
“After the 2008 terror attacks in Mumbai, genuine concerns were raised about the safety of the nuclear material used in various civilian facilities. We were also asked questions on different international fora on the matter. So we held various consultations with the authorities to ensure the safety of not just the nuclear facilities, but of various radiation centres and radiating material,” Fredric Lall, director of Nuclear Safety Projects, Atomic Energy Research Board, told The Sunday Guardian.
“We have undertaken extensive awareness programmes for enhancing the safety of radiation facilities and material. Mainly after the 2008 terror attacks, wide consultations were held with the Ministry of Home Affairs and IG Security, to bring out tighter safety norms. After these consultations, GAZETTES were issued to every district headquarter for securing radiation facilities,” Lall said.
Elaborating on the thought that went behind the measures undertaken, he added, “For the security of the nuclear facilities, the strategy is two-pronged. One is that of prevention, and the other is that of protection. We have to scan people to ensure that we employ only those who will not misuse the facility. Access has to be given to only those persons who have proper integrity. The other point is that of protection. We have to lay down elaborate alarm systems to monitor the facilities. These alarms have to be assessed from time to time. At present, even the movement of Category 1 and Category 2 radiographic sources is monitored closely.”
Meanwhile, to bring transparency and increase efficiency in the regulatory processes, the Atomic Energy Regulatory Board has recently launched electronic licencing for radiation applications. Named “e-LORA” (e-Licensing for Radiation Applications), it is “an e-Governance initiative by the AERB, which is a web-based application for the automation of regulatory processes for various Radiation Facilities in India. The system is aimed at achieving paperless licensing of Radiation Facilities.”
Under this system, all radiation professionals have to register themselves under e-LORA. “Safety codes and safety standards are formulated on the basis of nationally and internationally accepted safety criteria for design, construction and operation of specific equipment, structures, systems, and components of nuclear and radiation facilities. Safety codes establish the objectives and set of requirements that shall be fulfilled to provide adequate assurance for safety. Safety guides elaborate various requirements and furnish approaches for their implementation. Safety manuals deal with specific topics and contain detailed scientific and technical information on the subject. These documents are prepared by experts in the relevant fields and are extensively reviewed by advisory committees of the Board before they are published. The documents are revised when necessary, in the light of experience and feedback from users as well as new developments in the field,” the safety code issued by Atomic Energy Regulatory Board stated.