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Tanzania’s nuclear energy lab almost complete

Tanzania's nuclear energy lab almost complete

Tanzania’s nuclear energy lab almost complete

Arusha. An ultra-modern nuclear energy laboratory, under construction here from 2017, is nearing completion.

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The Sh13 billion facility will be used for testing and maintenance of sophisticated radiology equipment and instruments.

“The complex will be completed by September,” revealed Prof Lazaro Busagara, the director general of the Tanzania Atomic Energy Commission (Taec).

He told a Parliamentary Committee on Social Services on Tuesday that scores of staff members of the Commission were currently being trained to operate the lab.

The laboratory, located at Njiro suburb south east of Arusha, will serve the nuclear energy sector and the East African region.

The first phase, costing Sh2.3 billion, was completed and officially inaugurated by Prime Minister Kassim Majaliwa in April, 2018.

The project’s first phase will have four mini labs and a nuclear security support centre, according to Prof Busagara.

The mini labs are those dealing with X-Ray Fluorescence devices, person monitoring dosimetry, standard dosimetry and a lab specific for the human body.

Construction of the Sh10.4 billion second phase began in September 2019 and was undertaken by Chinese Li Jun Development Construction Company.

Ten mini labs for installation there include those specifically for radiology; Alpha, Beta and Gamma rays, Cytogenetic laboratory and XRF lab.

Others are laboratories that will handle instrumentation and maintenance, radiochemistry and radioactive wastes conditioning.

Prof Busagara told the MPs that some Sh7.8 billion or 75 percent of the construction costs has already been paid to the contractor.

Some Sh3.6 billion of the building costs was sourced from the central government while Sh4.2 billion was raised from revenues generated internally.

“Until Wednesday last week, the construction had reached 94 percent, being three months ahead of the work plan,” he pointed out.

This will be a unique and most modern laboratory of its kind in Africa. It would enable Tanzania to comply with internationally agreed legal and security requirements on nuclear energy equipment. Speaking during the visit, Education, Science and Technology minister Adolf Mkenda called for enhanced public sensitisation on nuclear energy.

He said the technology was not much known to the public despite its importance in food preservation, medical treatment, power generation and other sectors

Incidentally, the minister said, exporters and importers were more familiar with atomic or nuclear energy than people directly involved in the production of goods.

Prof Mkenda said nuclear technology was crucial for national development and that the ministry was ready to send brilliant students for advanced training abroad.