Picture: ISTOCK
Picture: ISTOCK

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.