Malawi Bureau of Standards (MBS) radiochemistry laboratory launched on Thursday will cut costs, ensure health for Malawians and facilitate international trade, authorities have said.
MBS with support from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) through the Environmental Affairs Department now hosts a radioanalystical laboratory which is the agency’s liaison office in the country.
According to MBS, the equipment will be used to monitor levels of radio activity around mines and certify exports to markets that require them.
Speaking during the launch of the laboratory, Minister of Environment and Climate Change Management Harima Daudi said Malawi used to send samples for radioactive tests from agriculture, mining and the industry to South Africa and this used to be costly.
“Malawi became a member of the IAEA in 2006 following prospects of uranium mining and the construction of a cancer treatment centre. I would like to acknowledge the good gesture and support by the IAEA. As government we are going to benefit a lot from this radioanalytical laboratory,” said Daudi.
She commended MBS and the department of mines for implementing the project and urged for the equipment to be used in a right manner by maintaining it frequently.
Speaking after inaugurating the equipment, MBS director general, Davlin Chokazinga, said the new machines will facilitate the international trade apart from ensuring that people are protected from radioactivity.
“There are other markets that buy our agricultural commodities which usually ask for certification that the exports are free from radioactive material. This laboratory will, therefore, facilitate trade to those markets.
“As you might be aware, Malawi has embarked on a serious mining and one of the mines is in Kayerekera Uranium Mine. You will agree that the mineral has got radioactive material as it is being mined, therefore, we shall now be able to get samples from the surrounding areas and monitor the levels of radioactive materials that is being released in the environment,” said Chokazinga.
According to MBS, in February 2011 the bureau received instruments from the IAEA as a grant to support troubleshooting and repairs of nuclear instrumentation in the country.
The bureau added that the troubleshooting equipment has enhanced MBS’ capacity in terms of servicing electrical and electronic equipment and has cut down the downtimes experienced by various industries.