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Plans for centre to monitor radiation.

BAHRAIN is on the verge of finalising plans to set up a specialist centre to monitor radiation levels.

The country's National Disaster Committee is studying a proposal drawn up by the Supreme Council for Environment (SCE).

It comes amid growing concerns about the potential impact on Bahrain and the Gulf from a disaster at Iran's controversial nuclear power plant.

The Gulf Co-operation Council last month raised concerns about radiation leaks from the Bushehr-based facility after a 6.3 magnitude earthquake hit Iran on April 9 this year, killing more than 60 people.

Saudi Arabia has also announced plans to set up 16 nuclear reactors within the next 20 years and two are already being built in the UAE, the first of which is expected to be up and running by 2017.

SCE director-general Dr Adel Al Zayani believes a National Centre for Radiation could be approved within a week.

"It will focus on controlling and monitoring radiation's impact on people and the environment," he told the GDN.

"The threat locally has become larger with more surrounding countries moving towards nuclear facilities for energy production.

"The whole point of the centre is to become a resource for the field of radiation, and to prevent local disasters if they occur regionally."

Dr Al Zayani said Bahrain was only 300km from Iran's nuclear power plant in Bushehr, which puts it at high risk in the event of a natural disaster.

He explained the centre would provide a much-needed system for advanced radiation warnings in the event of a nuclear disaster.

"Most countries surrounding Bahrain are developing nuclear programmes for energy production," said Dr Al Zayani.

"We need to have all the precautions in place and measures taken into mind as the UAE, Israel and Saudi Arabia are in the planning stages of developing their nuclear programmes.

"Bahrain is 300km away from the reactor in Iran, so if anything disastrous happens there it is not far from Bahrain in terms of radiation and we need to have a contingency plan."

Dr Al Zayani said the centre would not only monitor ionised radiation from the power plant, but also unionised radiation emitted from all electrical devices.

"The centre will not only monitor ionised radiation but also unionised which can be transmitted from anything electrical like a mobile phone," said Dr Al Zayani.

"It will be the duty of the centre to make sure that locally things that produce a high level of unionised radiation - like mobile phone towers and transmitters - are not emitting radiation at a harmful level."

The proposed centre will train Bahrainis in subjects such as nuclear physics.

"We want all those who work at the centre to be qualified and specialised in the field," said Dr Al Zayani.

"So we are recommending that a human resource department be set up to facilitate training for Bahraini staff who will work there.

"They will need to be trained to monitor, analyse and report on the subject.

"This centre will give Bahrain a more dedicated and faster radiation warning and reporting system."

ahmed@gdn.com.bh

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Publication:Gulf Daily News (Manama, Bahrain)
Geographic Code:7IRAN
Date:Aug 6, 2013
Words:526
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