DA asks UN watchdog to help with probe
Cape Town - The DA will ask the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to investigate what has happened to more than 200 "radiation devices" that cannot be accounted for by the Directorate of Radiation Control.
"It emerged [at a parliamentary committee meeting on Wednesday] that the task team that was supposed to have been established by the directorate... to find the missing radiation sources, has met only once and made no gains in locating the devices," Democratic Alliance health spokesperson Mike Waters said in a statement on Thursday.
The directorate, which reports to the health minister, is responsible for regulating so-called radioactive nuclides, used for a variety of medical, scientific, agricultural, industrial and commercial purposes.
At a meeting of Parliament's health portfolio committee in November last year, MPs heard the directorate had "lost" 239 radiation filters, and was working on tracing them.
Waters said the failure of both the health department and the directorate to find the missing material had potentially placed the health and safety of South Africans at risk.
"Such pitiful progress indicates a lack of urgency on the part of the directorate and the task team, and calls into question why the department of health has not acted to improve this body's ability to fulfil its mandate.
"In yesterday's meeting of the health portfolio committee, it was revealed that South Africa is in contravention of its international obligations regarding radioactive material, failing to meet every aspect, 'bar one', of the IAEA's safety standards," he said.
The DA would now write to the international nuclear energy watch dog requesting an investigation.
"In response to the insufficient progress that has been made... in retrieving the unaccounted for radiation devices, I will today be writing to the IAEA to call for an investigation... into the state of the directorate, and to ask for the agency's assistance in locating the missing radiation sources," Waters said.