Bill stipulates regulatory mechanism for nuclear, radioactive materials

Kathmandu, February 28

The Bill on Safe and Peaceful Use of Nuclear and Radioactive Materials-2019, approved by the National Assembly yesterday, stipulates provision of a powerful regulatory body for the regulation of nuclear and radioactive materials in the country.

The bill was tabled by Minister of Education, Science and Technology Giriraj Mani Pokharel at the upper house for consideration. As per Section 3 of the bill, ionized radiation and nuclear technology shall be used only for peaceful purpose.

“There shall be a regulatory body to carry out regulation of nuclear and radioactive materials. However, the Government of Nepal may designate any ministry or agency to function as the regulatory body until the formation of such mechanism,” reads the bill.

The bill has also mentioned functions, duties and power of the regulatory body. They include formulating policies, plans and programmes related to nuclear and radioactive materials, developing of standard for protection of citizens, flora and fauna, property and environment from potential impacts of the ionized radiation; determining duties and responsibilities of persons or institutions licensed to use nuclear and radioactive material and fixing qualification of technicians working in licensed institution.

According to Section 6 of the bill any person or institution wishing to carry out activities related to nuclear or radioactive materials shall have to submit an application along with necessary documents to the regulatory body for licence. “No one shall carry out the activities related to nuclear or radioactive materials without obtaining a licence,” reads Section 6. The licence obtained by a person or institution is non-transferable.

If a licensee is found to have violated the terms and conditions set forth in the licence and the prevailing laws, the regulatory body shall revoke such a licence by giving him/her an opportunity of defence.

As per the bill, if a person uses technology related to nuclear and  radioactive power, he/she shall be imprisoned for a term ranging from five to 10 years, along with a fine up to Rs 1.2 million. In case of death or injury of any person due to negligence and misuse of the nuclear or radioactive materials, perpetrator shall be liable to action, in accordance with prevailing law. S/he shall also be ordered to pay the prescribed amount to the victims or their kin as compensation.

The bill envisions to help achieve the goal of national prosperity through development of state-of-the-art technology while protecting public health and environment from nuclear and radioactive materials. If endorsed by both houses of the Parliament, the bill will be the first law on safe and peaceful use of nuclear and radioactive materials in the country.

Nepal had signed Nuclear Weapons Prohibition Treaty in September-2017, during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly. It became a member of International Atomic Energy Agency in July-2008.

Nepal will not be eligible to purchase any nuclear technology without enacting a law.  The Government of Nepal has expressed its strong commitment to the principle of  general and complete disarmament of all weapons of mass destruction, particularly  chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear in compliance with safeguard frameworks of the IAEA.