Business Day

Ex­ec­u­tives re­turn af­ter nu­clear safety breach in­quiry ends

- Pene­lope Mashego mashe­gop@busi­nesslive.co.za Nuclear Power · Energy · Industries

The board of NTP Ra­dioiso­topes (NTP) has an­nounced the re­in­state­ment of three of its se­nior ex­ec­u­tives fol­low­ing the con­clu­sion of an in­quiry into a breach of safety reg­u­la­tions at the NTP radiochemi­cals com­plex in 2017.

NTP is a global pro­ducer and sup­plier of nu­clear medicine and ra­di­a­tion-based prod­ucts and ser­vices. The com­pany sup­plies up to a third of the global de­mand for Mo-99, the most widely used iso­tope.

Mo-99 is used in the di­ag­no­sis of cancer.

The com­pany ex­ports about 90% of its prod­ucts and gen­er­ates about R3.5m a day.

In Novem­ber 2017, the Na­tional Nu­clear Reg­u­la­tor or­dered the South African Nu­clear En­ergy Cor­po­ra­tion to shut down pro­duc­tion at its NTP radiochemi­cals com­plex for vi­o­lat­ing safety pro­ce­dures.

This came af­ter NTP’s hy­dro­gen mon­i­tor­ing sys­tems failed. Hy­dro­gen is highly flammable and has to be closely mon­i­tored.

The fail­ure could have re­sulted in an ex­plo­sion, the reg­u­la­tor said.

NTP had only re­ported the sys­tems fail­ure three days af­ter it oc­curred in Oc­to­ber, a de­lay the Na­tional Nu­clear Reg­u­la­tor re­garded as a ma­jor breach of safety pro­ce­dures.

In Mon­day’s state­ment, NTP an­nounced that its MD, Tina Eboka, group ex­ec­u­tive for strate­gic op­er­a­tions Gavin Ball, and group ex­ec­u­tive for com­pli­ance Ger­hard Wort­mann were no longer on spe­cial leave, while ex­ec­u­tive man­ager for waste and main­te­nance Benji Steyn­berg had cho­sen to take early re­tire­ment.

“It is im­por­tant that NTP re­gains sta­bil­ity and tack­les chal­lenges that it is fac­ing,” said the NTP board chair­woman Dr Na­mane Ma­gau.

“The board puts this re­spon­si­bil­ity on the shoul­ders of all its crit­i­cal em­ploy­ees so as to main­tain the global stand­ing of the or­gan­i­sa­tion as one of the top three nu­clear medicine global pro­duc­ers.

“This task also rests on all staff mem­bers ral­ly­ing be­hind this lead­er­ship,” Ma­gau said.

South African Nu­clear En­ergy Cor­po­ra­tion group CEO Phumzile Tshe­lane wel­comed the re­in­state­ment of the three ex­ec­u­tives, not­ing the crit­i­cal role NTP played in the South African econ­omy and its key role in cancer treat­ment.

Fol­low­ing the in­quiry, the NTP board also de­cided to re­view the com­pany’s or­gan­i­sa­tional struc­ture to im­prove safety man­age­ment and en­sure that it com­plied with reg­u­la­tory re­quire­ments.

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