US to help Chittagong port bolster nuclear security

Team arrives in mid-Nov to discuss further steps

Syful Islam | Published: October 22, 2018 09:43:38 | Updated: October 22, 2018 14:41:56

Photo: Wikipedia

A US team is due in the city next month to discuss with officials the issue of prohibiting illicit shipment of nuclear and other radioactive materials through the Chittagong port, officials said.

Under the "Megaports Initiative," the National Nuclear Security Administration of the US government has installed 12 Radiation Portal Monitors (RPMs) in Chittagong port, which operates to deter, detect, and stem illegal transportation of radioactive substances.

The team was scheduled to visit Dhaka in August last but the trip was deferred until mid-November.

On November 13, the team will meet officials of the ministry of shipping (MoS), National Board of Revenue (NBR), Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission, and the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Regulatory Authority.

They will meet officials of the Chittagong Port Authority (CPA) and Chittagong Customs House the following day,

The governments of Bangladesh and the United States signed a memorandum of understanding (MoU) in 2008 regarding this issue.

The administration under its second line of defence programme provided the equipment to the Chittagong port and the Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission to help prohibit the presence of radioactive materials in outbound cargos.

The monitors are being operated by Chittagong Customs House officials.

Of the 12 monitors, six were installed in one gate through which the outbound containers are mainly transported. The rest were installed in four gates.

Still, seven other gates remain unequipped for detecting radioactive stuffs.

CPA director (security) Abdul Gaffar told the FE on Sunday that the port has 12 gates, and all of them need two such monitors each to ensure prohibiting carriage of radioactive substances both in and outbound consignments.

He said the US government spent some US$ 15 million this programme in Bangladesh.

Mr Gaffar said during the discussion with the US team in November, he will request the US side to enhance the number of monitors so that all gates can be covered.

He said six monitors were installed in Chittagong port access road gate. He will also propose removing four monitors from there and are installed in two other gates.

Mr Gaffar said in March 2016 he wrote the Shipping Ministry and the NBR for taking efforts to raise the number of monitors in the port considering the necessity, as trade through country's prime seaport is growing significantly every year.

"I think every gate needs to have monitors to check both in and outbound cargos," he said.

The Chittagong Customs House in August last year detected radioactive materials in a container, which was disposed later by the experts of Bangladesh Atomic Energy Commission (BAEC).

The customs house also detected another radioactive substance in April 2014, which contained radium and beryllium radiation.


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