The Senate on Tuesday passed for second reading a bill for an act to repeal the Nuclear Safety and Radiation Protection Act and enact the Nuclear Safety Security and Safeguards Act.
The bill also sought to re-establish the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NURA).
The reading of the bill at plenary for the second time followed the presentation of the lead debate by sponsor of the bill, Sen. Ajayi Boroffice (APC Ondo).
Ajayi, in his lead debate on the general principles of the bill, said it sought to re-establish an already existing legal framework for the NURA by expanding its mandate to include safeguards in nuclear industry in Nigeria.
He said nuclear assets of a nation constituted a critical part of its strategic national infrastructure.
He said it was a known fact that nuclear assets formed vital technology element of a country’s comprehensive state power.
He also said the bill, if passed into law, would provide significant benefits in various sectors of the economy.
He listed the sectors to include, health and medicine, scientific research, agriculture, industry education and energy production.
He noted that nuclear technology was one of the promising alternatives to energy deficit, adding that nuclear energy had become one of the safest sources of energy across the globe.
He said although Nigeria was not currently generating electricity from nuclear sources.
He, however, said the country was already using radioactive sources in agriculture, medicine and mining.
He said giving the possibility that Nigeria might add nuclear energy to its energy mix, it was necessary to put in place legislative and regulatory measures to enable safe and peaceful use of nuclear technology.
According to him, the existing law on nuclear safety and radiation protection is 25 years old, noting that the current law has been overtaken by events and developments in the field of nuclear technology.
He said the law fell below minimum standards of independence and requirements, prescribed by International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).
He said the current law did not provide for the regulation of nuclear power programme and growing challenges of radioactive waste management, hence the call for a re-enactment of the bill.
Contributing, Sen. Barau Jibril (APC Kano) said Nigeria could actually leverage on its nuclear resources to improve electricity supply in the country.
Barau challenged nuclear scientists in the country to evolve measures and contribute in developing nuclear power plants in the country.
Other senators, who spoke in support of the bill were Ibrahim Oloriebe (APC Kwara) Sen. Albert Bassey (PDP Akwa-Ibom) and Sen. Ashatu Ahmed (APC Adamawa) among others.
Following the second reading of the bill, President of the Senate Ahmad Lawan referred the bill to Committees on Petroleum Upstream, Science and Technology for further legislative input.
The senate also at plenary, considered the first reading of five bills.
The bills are 1999 Constitution of the Federal Republic of Nigeria Alteration Bill, 2020 sponsored by Sen. Ovie Omo-Agege (APC Delta) among others.(NAN)