The government will go ahead with the construction of the radioactive storage facility in Pilikwe village despite the numerous objections from the residents.
The facility is to be constructed during the 2010/2011 financial year. The Minister of Infrastructure, Science and Technology, Johnnie Swartz yesterday asked Parliament to approve a total P7 of 000, 000 for the Atomic Energy Usage and Radiation Protection Inspectorate project for constructing the Orphan Radioactive Storage Facility in the Central District.
Swartz told Parliament that the Radiation Protection Board continues to develop guidelines to assist the users to comply with Radiation Protection Act and so far 10 safety guidelines have been approved.
He added that the establishing of the radioactive storage facility would ensure accountability and safe disposal of all radioactive substances within the borders of Botswana. "Let me assure everyone that the proposed facility is not a dumping site as alleged but a customer designed building that will provide for effective control, management and administration of used nuclear sources and radioactive material within our borders," Swartz said. He revealed that Botswana continues to maintain its membership to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) for the peaceful application of atomic energy and enhanced ionising radiation safety.
Pilikwe residents have been up in arms since the suggestion to set up the storage facility was made last year. During the kgotla meetings that were addressed by the government officials, residents vehemently objected to its construction. Even though the government tried to convince them the facility would be built according to international standards and ensure no toxic materials left the facility without proper handling, they insisted they would not allow the facility to be built in their village. The villagers also argued that the facility would not bring any development but instead imperil their lives and those of their livestock.
The facility will be located about 3km southwest of Pilikwe village.