Mukono rejects radioactive waste site

The automic storage facility at Canan Site in Mukono District. PHOTO BY JESSICA SABANO

Mukono- Residents of Kitoba village in Mukono District have opposed plans by the Uganda Atomic Energy Council (AEC) to construct a nuclear and atomic waste site in the area.

The residents fear the dump for non-functional atomic equipment, including X-rays and cancer machines, will compromise their safety.

Already, the residents at Canaan Sites are suspicious of a container that has been standing on the 11.5 acres of land acquired by the AEC in 2011 at Shs460m.

But AEC executive secretary Deogratias Luwalira told the residents that the Energy ministry acquired the land to implement a five-year master plan.

He told the residents at Kichwa Primary School in Mpoma during a community awareness meeting on Sunday that the Energy ministry acquired the land to build AEC headquarters, staff accommodation, laboratories, atomic/nuclear storage facility, and sports fields.

“The equipment to be kept here has no safety hazards. The store will have a safety case that will be operated in a safe manner,” Mr Luwalira said.

He said radioactive wastes are currently scattered in different parts of the country and needed to be secured in one central location.

Mr Luwalira said the radioactive source recently removed from the old cancer machine remains at Mulago due to lack of a secure storage facility in the country. He said AEC is working with government agencies such as the National Environmental Management Authority (Nema), the Ministry of Health, Uganda Revenue Authority, and the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency.
Nema executive director Tom Okurut yesterday said the agency had not received any documents from AEC regarding the project.

The key issues
Works. Ms Diana Ahumuza, a resident of Canaan Sites estates, said a container with a CCTV camera on the land in question is an indication that there is already ongoing works.
Hazards. Mr Ronald Kibuule, the area MP, said the project could expose them to life-long toxic hazards. “I received a petition from the residents opposed to establishment of the project and that is why I am here. I think this storage facility should be taken to Nakasongola District where there other facilities of this nature,” he advised.
He asked that the ‘suspicious’ container be opened rand it was found to be empty.