As nuclear and radiation safety issues attract increased attention around the world, following grave nuclear explosions, an Azerbaijani state body prepared a new draft law on nuclear and radiation safety.
So far, the world has witnessed several serious nuclear and radiation accidents. Nuclear power plant accidents include the Chernobyl disaster (1986) in the former Soviet republic of Ukraine, Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster (2011), and the Three Mile Island accident (1979). Some nuclear-powered submarine mishaps can also be added to this list.
Azerbaijan also keeps the issues of radiation safety in spotlight. The country cooperates with international organizations and implements a number of joint projects in this area.
The project "Strengthening of Radiation Safety Infrastructure and Development of Supporting Services of the Republic of Azerbaijan", which is funded by the EU, was presented on February 15.
The presentation of the twinning project was conducted jointly with Lithuania's Radiation Safety Centre and the Central Projects Management Agency.
The purpose of the two-year project is to improve observing the effects of ionized radiation and streamlining of the energy policy on the control over all types of radiation.
950,000 euros will be allocated to finance the project.
The State Agency on Nuclear and Radiological Activity Regulation of Azerbaijan's Ministry of Emergency Situations has prepared a new draft law on nuclear and radiation safety. Head of the state agency, Vugar Huseynov, said that the bill has been submitted to the Ministry of Emergency Situations and is currently under consideration.
The bill meets the requirements of the UN's nuclear watchdog IAEA, as well as includes suggestions of Azerbaijan's Cabinet of Ministers.
Deputy Minister of Emergency Situations Faig Tagizade said at the presentation that the ministry pays much attention to the radiation safety issue.
He noted that the effective law on radiation safety in Azerbaijan was adopted in 1998 and is based on the Soviet laws of the 1950-60s.
"Since then, many things - equipment and the level of the healthcare system - have changed, new requirements and views have appeared. Serious work must be carried out for the draft law to meet international standards."
Tagizade also said the state agency for radiology regulation has reached success in the field of radiation safety since its establishment. He reminded that last year, under a decree of the Azerbaijani President, cleanup and burial of the waste from the Ramana and Surakhani plants was carried out and this work was appreciated by the IAEA.
Head of the EU delegation to Azerbaijan, Roland Kobia, said the twinning project is the first project realized jointly with the Ministry of Emergency Situations, expressing hope for the implementation of such projects in the future.
He underlined that radiation is a serious problem and radiation safety should be ensured in all countries. He said that although there are no nuclear plants in Azerbaijan, some countries in the region possess such power plants, therefore, there is a possibility of radiation infection.
Kobia said the EU wants shutdown of the 33-year-old Metsamor nuclear plant in Armenia because of the outdated facilities of the plant and its location in a seismic zone.
Metsamor is one of the few remnants of the old Soviet nuclear reactors built without primary containment structures. Only a few of these first generation water-moderated reactors are still in use today, being past or near their original retirement ages, but what sets the Metsamor nuclear power plant apart from all the others is the fact that it's located in a potentially hazardous seismic zone.
Lithuanian Ambassador to Azerbaijan Arturas Zurauskas noted at the presentation of the twinning project that this project is important for Lithuania as well, expressing hope that it will help Azerbaijan to achieve success in the field of radiation safety.