Advocacy group alerts FG to halt nuclear projects, cites safety concerns

ON Wednesday, Environmental Rights Action/Friends of the Earth Nigeria, ERA/FoEN, urged the Nigerian government to desist from its agreement with the Russian owned company, Rosatom, to build nuclear power stations, citing safety concerns.

The group’s Head of media, Philip Jakpor, who disclosed this in a statement in Lagos cautioned the Nigerian government that building nuclear power plants to boost power generation might result in likely mishaps difficult to control similar to the Arkhangelsk region nuclear explosion in Russia.

“We restate our aversion to throwing nuclear plants into the energy mix in Nigeria. The explosion in Russia even with their expertise is enough indication that it is not the path to go,” the statement read.

On August 8, Russian scientists were working on miniaturised sources of nuclear energy when a rocket engine exploded which led to a spike in radiation levels and mass evacuation of communities near the facility.

The explosion had killed five people and caused radiation readings in neighbouring cities which was over 20 times above their normal level in half an hour

“The details are scary enough. We reject the nuclear option for power generation because they are dangerous and we do not have the capacity to manage the potential disaster a nuclear breach may cause, “it states.

In 2017, Russia’s state-owned Rosatom and Nigeria signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MOU, for the construction and operation of a nuclear power plant and research centre in Kogi, Akwa Ibom, and Abuja.

The decision and the process involved in choosing the sites has been criticized by civil society groups and communities in Itu, Akwa Ibom State warning that siting the nuclear plant in their community does not have their endorsement.

The agreement provides for the construction of a centre with the two-circuit pool-type reactor of the Russian design and a nominal power rating of 10 MW in Sheba-Abuja.

Four nuclear plants that Rosatom will build will cost about $80billion, with the first plant expected to be ready by 2025, while the others are due to be completed by 2035.

    Akinbode Oluwafemi, Deputy Executive Director of the group, advised the authorities to thread with caution by taking the host communities along in its decision.

    “Once again we have another reason to ask the Nigeria government to halt the nuclear misadventure spearheaded by the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, NAEC, without the consent of Nigerians,” he said.

    Oluwafemi explained that with the global community’s drive to pursue clean and safe energy options including wind and solar technologies, Nigeria was still stuck with nuclear power that neither clean nor safe nor cheap.

    “We have not shown sufficient capacity to manage our hydro and gas-fired plants, yet we are plunging into the uncharted waters of nuclear power. This plan should stop immediately,” he affirmed.

    Amos Abba is a journalist with the International Center for Investigative Reporting, ICIR, who believes that courageous investigative reporting is the key to social justice and accountability in the society.

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