Image courtesy of www.theecologist.org
It is no longer news that the country is looking at generating power from Nuclear energy and it is on that basis that this article stems forth.
Nuclear energy being one the fastest means of power generation is not only expensive but unsafe and unstable. In developed countries where its usage is employed, there are established means of containment in the event of a nuclear disaster. Having said that, what comes to one’s mind is the Chernobyl, Three mile Island and Fukushima disasters which shook the countries they were situated and the world at large.
It is no longer news that there are moves to build nuclear plants in the country and this I believe should be a thing of concern giving our poor maintenance culture. We had problems maintaining our refineries here in the country which saw us importing refined products, something we have been doing for years and would continue for God-knows-how-long. Now come to think of it, how would a country that had issues maintaining refineries fare when it comes to maintaining nuclear power plants.
Let me take us on a little scientific journey on the workings of a nuclear power plant so we would at least know what we could be dealing with. Nuclear reactors are based on a scientific process known as nuclear fission which sees atoms of larger element disintegrate to yield smaller elements, of course with the emission of energy.
Nuclear power plants are powered by uranium (a type of radioactive element) which functions by heating up a turbine which produces electric power. South Africa is one African country where its usage is employed.
What could go wrong with nuclear power?
This I believe should be our main concern as nuclear wastes could take a lot to contain. This extremely dangerous waste must be looked after for thousands of years. A little accident could spell doom for a future generation if it isn’t handled properly. Our maintenance culture again becomes a thing of worry.
During this process of fission which powers reactors like breeders, there is usually a chain reaction which is of a cascade nature and this could sometimes give rise to Plutonium, an unnatural element which when released into nature could pose serious hazardous problems.
Preferred targets for terrorist attacks
Movies and books have taught us that nuclear plants are hot targets for militants and terrorist organizations.
Accidents do happen and in the event of a nuclear accident, there could be serious threat to the environment (Fukushima) and also human life (Chernobyl).
Nuclear experts have been contributing to the discourse and one of them , Wole Olaoye, who has been covering Nigeria’s nuclear aspiration for decades warned: “We have security problems in Nigeria right now. And I don’t want to think of a situation where we will manage the fallout of a nuclear leakage. With the level of incompetence with which we have treated our hydro-power stations. I don’t see us managing nuclear power competently and efficiently.”
Even as sustainable as nuclear energy may appear (although it is not in its entirety), I am still of the opinion that Nigeria is not yet ready. Think the textile industries, power generation and distribution, Ajaokuta steel mill and others in the solid mineral industry, the car assembly plants, etc. Nuclear energy cannot just be handled the same way.
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