On Nigeria getting on the nuclear plant train and the maintenance culture we lack

Nuclear energy is a highly effective source of electricity generation. The world currently has about 500 nuclear reactors functioning, France alone has 58 Nuclear reactors, China has 30, Japan has 38 and the United States has 99. (International Atomic Energy Agency) . It is considered the major source of electricity in France, Ukraine , Hungary and Slovakia. Only 31 countries are currently harnessing nuclear energy, but about another 40 countries are giving serious consideration to building Nuclear plants.
Nuclear energy is considered a renewable energy source as not a lot of greenhouse gases are released into the atmosphere but it is pertinent to note that the idea cannot perfectly work for every environment, we have to consider the working culture of the people in that are in the area as nuclear waste is highly dangerous.
It was in the national daily that the minister of power, works and housing, Mr Babatunde Fashola made it known to the Newsagency of Nigeria that we have indeed started the process of getting certified, getting training since 17 years ago and have gone as far as finding the suitable sites for two nuclear plants in Nigeria.
Can we all remind ourselves that we have been in the process of getting power right from hydro plants and gas plants for over half a century, yet, out of the 140 turbines Nigeria has, only 50 are functional. Does that say something about our maintenance culture?
Can we also remind ourselves that we have been in the process of generating power for years and we have only recorded failures from one regime of government to another. So does this make the idea that 17 years is enough time for preparing to get on the Nuclear plant train valid or not? We have spent years sending our youths  abroad to study petroleum engineering, chemical engineering and all the forms of engineering we need for a funtioning refinery yet we struggle to have an effective refinery.
We have invested the National power training institute in Abuja, Jos, Lagos, Kaduna, Enugu, Kano, Kainji, Afam and Akangba yet we suffer from power shortages. Is training graduates to masters level a justification that they have enough experience and do we trust them enough to be in charge of a nuclear plant set to be built by foreigners?
In case you are wondering if the sites will be in your back yard or your family owned farmland in the village, do not  fear, the sites will be located in Akwa Ibom and Kogi states. It is not in my backyard but I worry for those within the vicinity which these plants will be built. I worry and I want to fight the construction of these plants, more importantly I worry for the entire nation because nuclear contaminants are highly volatile and travel long distances.
Wait, are you wondering where my pessimism is coming from? I must say that building nuclear plants isn’t the investment we need to focus on as a nation at the moment.
If you are wondering why I am against Nigeria generating more megawatts from nuclear power, you should please take a moment to read up and see videos about nuclear disasters. Chernobyl is a good example. 30 years later, there are still deaths and cancer cases that are traced to the disaster.
I do not trust my country to be careful enough to deal with a nuclear plant. There are simply too many risk involved. We are simply not famous for being meticulous and cautious, and those traits are quite important to prevent the disasters that could arise in a nuclear plant. It is not that I do not trust a child to know how to light a match stick, but I fear that the child might not be able to curtail the risk that may arise if anything goes wrong in the process of lighting a match.
So while my fear lies in poor maintenance of the nuclear plants like we have poorly maintained several facilities in our custody, my greater fear lies in the damage that comes with nuclear disasters and not being able to curtail them.
High levels of radiation cannot be seen, smelled or touched? The effects of radiation poisoning can be see on humans 24 hours through skin changes, Neusea, shedding of hair, bleeding, vomitting, abdominal pain, which means damages will have been done internally before we see physical evidences.
Let’s not overlook the several birth deformities that comes with exposure to radiation. We do not have health amenities to curtail, neither do we have reliable emergency agencies in case of a mishap.
It worries me that even the roads and highways where we see obvious evidence of damage, we have only folded out hands and hissed at the complacent government. The aim of this is not downplay the advantages of nuclear energy, but to bring to knowledge the dangers in the journey we are about to take.
Let’s keep our air free of radioactive substances that could cause long term damages.
What do you think about a nuclear plant in Nigeria? Share your thoughts and views and let’s have a conversation.

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June 26, 2016 At 6:59 pm

I had this same conversation with the MD of a multinational power rental company two weeks back and we both laughed about the poor advisers the minister surrounds himself with. I was a little disappointed at him, because in this age and time when we strive for safety he is even talking about this. You have said it all, and everything balls down to our “third world safety culture” which is evident everywhere. I can tell you the people of Kogi state will protest against this.
Let me leave you with this, just like most capital projects in Nigeria, this will be abandoned, because both economically and technologically, this project is a no go area. The capex as well as opex put together can successfully build a dual fuel power plant. We have LNG and HFO available in Nigeria, all we need do is invest in pipeline infrastructure for the gas and a bulk storage for the HFO as well.

June 28, 2016 At 6:59 pm

I’m with you on this one as with most of your articles on the environment. Nigeria is not ready for nuclear power generation. We should loo to safer alternatives that require little maintenance. You don’t learn to walk by flying. You crawl. Then you walk. And then run. That is the process.
The mistakes we made in telecoms should not be transferred to power.

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