The legislation, approved by Parliament last year, would see those who import, bring, store, transport, bury or sink dangerous materials or waste jailed for up to three years and fined between BD15,000 and BD100,000.
However, if the materials or waste are nuclear, then the punishment will not be less than life in prison, which carries a 25-year sentence, or the death penalty with fines of between BD100,000 and BD1 million.
The government-drafted bill, that comprises 125 articles, also states that jail terms or fines could be doubled should the offence be repeated.
“The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) is fully responsible for radioactive materials and its transfer between countries,” said Special Envoy for Climate Affairs and Supreme Council for Environment chief executive Dr Mohammed Bin Daina.
“Most of the radioactive substances we receive here in Bahrain are for medical uses,” he added.
“We enforce a rule that the agent in Bahrain should contact the foreign supplier whenever there is no need for the machine or equipment here.
“Coincidentally, earlier this month Bahrain removed a disused sealed radioactive source (DSRS) from Salmaniya Medical Complex in co-ordination with the IAEA, which could have led to a radiation exposure.”
He said that is why the tough new rules were necessary, to prevent any nuclear or radioactive disaster resulting from disregarding procedure, improper conduct or criminal intent.
Failure to conduct an environmental impact study for construction – excluding residential – and maintenance and upgrades to existing establishments carries a jail term of between two and five years and fines of between BD20,000 and BD500,000.
The same punishment applies to offshore or onshore oil leaks, leakages of harmful substances into the sea, and possession or disposal of ionised or ion-emitting equipment without permission.
Under the new law, jail term of up to three years and fines of between BD15,000 and BD200,000 will be imposed for dumping garbage or sewage into the sea.
General substantial harm to the environment will be punished with no less than a year in jail and fines of between BD10,000 and BD50,000.
Jail terms of between a year and two and fines of between BD1,000 and BD2,000 will be slapped on oil and gas companies that dispose or deposit unsafely or hide information from environmental impact assessment teams.
Twelve other punishments for dumping, contamination or destruction of environment assessment equipment, besides preventing inspectors from carrying out their job, are also listed in the legislation.
Also under the law, a new national fund for environment protection and development would be set up.
It will recommend rewards for environment protection and development schemes – either by government establishments or societies. Its funding will come from the government, donations and fines collected.
The law excludes the Defence Affairs Ministry, the Interior Ministry and National Guards.
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