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Guyana building capacity to effectively respond to radiation exposure – Min. Anthony

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Eighteen agencies are participating in a two-day simulation exercise to review emergency response procedures under the new Radiation Safety and Protection Law.

The Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony emphasised the importance of this exercise, noting the country’s previous lack of focus on radiation regulation.

Minister of Health Dr Frank Anthony

“We have not paid a lot of attention to regulating radiation in the country, this is something new, with this new law that we have, we have to put the necessary mechanisms in place,” Dr Anthony noted.

Participants included representatives from agencies such as the Customs Anti-Narcotics Unit, Guyana Police Force, Guyana Defense Force, and the Environmental Protection Agency.

Minister Anthony highlighted the critical role of all agencies in handling radioactive materials, emphasising the need for proper protocols to prevent theft and environmental contamination.

Stakeholders participating in the simulation exercise

“While the isotopes are located within the country, it might be legitimately placed in various organizations that are using them. But if, let’s say it is stolen from that organization, then what are the protocols that we have to put in place? one, to protect the people.

“And secondly, how do we ensure that it does not contaminate areas, contaminate the environment and what do we need to do to recover it,” he specified.

He emphasised that the exercise aims to identify response gaps and improve preparedness.

Representative of the Environmental Protection Agency during a demonstration

While the health sector primarily uses radioactive isotopes for imaging and medical treatments, they are also utilized in the mining, aviation, and oil and gas industries. Exposure can pose risks to both humans and the ecosystem.

More exercises are planned to ensure compliance with the legislation. Guyana’s membership in the International Atomic Energy Agency has influenced the protocols outlined in the legislation, which are modelled after international best practices.

Some of the participants

Some of the participants

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