Thursday, December 4, 2014

Ghana cleared to go nuclear. How safe is it?



The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has given Ghana the green light to produce electricity from atomic energy. This comes almost five decades after the country opened negotiations with the international body on the matter.

Chief Director of the ministry of energy and petroleum, Prof. Thomas Agabas is reported by the media as saying that the international body promotes the peaceful use of nuclear energy, and approved Ghana’s request early this year.

The Energy Ministry is therefore targeting 700MW of electricity from nuclear energy in the first phase before increasing it to 1000 MW in subsequent years.

This is to complement the country’s two main energy sources; hydro and thermal electricity. Ghana will be the second in Africa after South Africa to produce electricity from nuclear energy.

Although interest in nuclear energy is picking up, electricity from nuclear energy should not be expected soon since the processes involved in nuclear power production are cumbersome, the chief director said.

Speaking on Joy News, Professor Kwame Aborh, Deputy Director General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Company (GAEC) said the first president of this country started this journey in 1963, saying it is a good news given the country’s current energy crisis.

Talking about the safety of the nuclear plant, concerns have been raised concerning accidents that have occurred in the Fukushima disaster in Japan, in India and other parts of the world, Professor Kwame Aborh said lessons have been learned from those accidents and corrections have been made to improve the nuclear plant.

He said fear is not going to prevent the agency from moving forward with nuclear energy. “We are not going to do it the Ghanaian way, we will adhere to international standards,” he asserted.

Again, he said the Atomic Energy Agency is going to guide, supervise and monitor the local agency to ensure that nothing is done to damage the image of nuclear energy.

The Nuclear Energy Power bill has not been passed yet but Professor Aborh says the agency is hoping that Parliament will pass the bill early next year.

He said the nuclear power plant will not be sited at Atomic, instead an appropriate location would be utilised.

He added that because it is not a power organisation, the nuclear power plant will not be operated by Ghana Atomic Energy Agency: “A company will have to be set up to operate it."

- Source: Ghana | JoyNews TV | Ivy Gyamfi