View Full Version : Ghana: Proposed Nuclear Power Is Both Unnecessary & Suicidal

11th April 2011, 12:34 AM
The news that International Atomic Energy Agency [IAEA] experts are expected in the country by the Government of Ghana to discuss the location characteristics of the proposed Nuclear power plant in the country has prompted my case against this project.

Obviously, there will be those who welcome this announcement, and those who strongly oppose this project. Nuclear power might be a good option for energy security but we’ve to face reality. It’s not that simple! Hence, we shouldn’t blindly welcome this project without evaluating the full ramifications, safety of nuclear power and the unresolved questions about nuclear waste storage.

With the Government’s ambitious interest in Nuclear power as the country’s electricity generation plan, raises the following increasing risks which hugely outweigh the benefit. In terms of cost, generating electricity supply from Nuclear power is both expansive and expensive project. In terms of capital expenditure on nuclear plants, where is the Government going to get the billions of dollars from? Do we need to add more loans to our insurmountable national debt? Where will the approximate 5000-10.000 metric tons of uranium needed to meet nuclear capacity target come from?

Importantly, how will the Government handle the radioactive nuclear waste materials? In considering this Nuclear power, there’s the need to look at the potential dangers and our safety management. Given our reckless, unpredictable behaviour and poor maintenance culture, and the fact that monitoring of radioactivity and handling of spent rods and nuclear waste are major conditions to ensure safety, it seems sheer folly and suicidal to pursue Nuclear power in Ghana. Is Ghana ready to contain any radiological hazards should there be any accident? We lack advanced health system equipped to handle emergency and professional emergency response teams. Where do we even take our radioactive waste to and how do we transport it? Can you imagine transporting highly radioactive nuclear waste on our ‘death trap’ roads or ‘epileptic’ rail network? Nuclear power stations produce highly toxic and highly radioactive waste and there’s no successful long term plan anywhere in the world to deal with the waste.

More so, Ghana lacks a booming science and technology sector. A handful of nuclear science products from Legon/KNUST aren’t enough for such a project. We lack large pool of nuclear scientists, engineers, geo-physicists, seismologists, radiation transport experts, climatologists among other needed expertise. Unless it becomes another ‘Chinese consortium’! The ideal location of this nuclear plant could be along the coastline or the Volta Lake. This is because Nuclear power is the largest water consumer among all energy technologies. There’re high risks of liquid radioactive waste contaminating either the sea or Volta Lake through operation discharge. This will poison the environment and affect the livelihood of people along the Volta Lake/coastline for generations.

Alternatively, the Government can do even better and more cheaply by improving efficiency in the existing Hydro-electric generations at Akosombo, Kpong and Bui. The Government could also incentivise renewable energy systems of solar and bio-energy with long term investments, new guidelines and low tariffs to encourage production of solar PV cells. The Government could also invest and conduct technical and feasibility studies into large scale bio-energy technology. Ghana has a very large sawmill industry.

The wood waste and sawdust generated by this industry could be used to produce clean electricity, which could be supplied directly to run these sawmills and the excess connected to the national grid. This is a cost-effective synergistic waste to energy project. Finally, anyone watching the dreadful events of the Fukushima plant triggered by both earthquake and tsunami in Japan and also recalls the Chernobyl disaster due to human failure to follow safety procedures should know that there’re lessons to be learned. Even our reckless attitude, abysmal safety records and lack of maintenance culture, hardly inspire any confidence in this project. This is a reality check and not about fostering inordinate fears among Ghanaians.

Alarmingly, but unsurprisingly, those charged with this project are unconcerned with the radiological hazards, health and environmental risks of Nuclear power. The Government and the public must take stock of what is at stake before embarking on this project which could turn dangerous, unnecessary and suicidal.
Source: Lonto-Boy