Agya Kwaku Ogboro
Agya Kwaku Ogboro

A desperate situation, they say, demands a desperate action. The ?dumso-dumso? situation is indeed a desperate one. Perhaps, that is why the Minister of Energy and Petroleum, Hon. Emmanuel Buah, is desperately considering the nuclear option.

What started as a minister musing has suddenly become a serious option. Before one could say Kofi, the minister was seen on television in a serious discussion with the head of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in-charge of Africa Region, Dr. Dahzu Yang, about Asomdwekrom going nuclear. Our fears were heightened when the head of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Prof. Ben Nyarko, confirmed that a nuclear energy plant bill was already in Parliament. Puei! A nuclear plant in Asomdwekrom? We are in deep trouble!

One argument being espoused by proponents of nuclear energy is the fact that it is a cheaper source of energy. Yes, it is cheaper in terms of how much is used to generate power; but very expensive when there is a nuclear disaster.

For a country which is faced with perennial flooding and fire disasters, it would be foolhardy to add a possible nuclear disaster to our woes. Certainly, we cannot afford to put the life of this generation and that of those unborn in danger.

Another argument for the establishment of a nuclear plant in the country is that we have the ability to maintain such a facility. They buttress the argument with the point that Dr. Kwame Okro established the GAEC because he believed in his own saying that the Blackman was capable of managing his own affairs.
True, very true! Dr. Okro did establish the GAEC. If he was alive, and with the benefit of hindsight, I doubt if he would still stand by his saying that the Blackman was capable of managing his own affairs.

In a country where officials grant building permits without caring about the consequences of their actions, I wonder if such a people could be said to be managing their affairs well. In a country where officials deliberately plant trees in the dry season and turnaround to tell the world that some of the trees are dead, I wonder if such a people could be said to be managing their affairs well. At best, we can say they are mismanaging their own affairs. And are these not the same persons that Dr. Okro referred to as people capable of managing their own affairs? I shudder to imagine such persons managing a nuclear plant.

At least 99 nuclear accidents have occurred worldwide to date. I wish to draw your attention to only two of them:

I hope you?ve ever heard about the Chernobyl disaster. It was a catastrophic nuclear accident that occurred on April 26, 1986 in Ukraine, then under the control of the Soviet Union. An explosion and fire released quantities of radioactive particles into the atmosphere, which spread over much of the Western USSR and Europe.

The Chernobyl disaster is widely considered to be the worst nuclear power plant accident in history. There have been controversies over the exact number of casualties but according to some estimates, over 500,000 died directly or indirectly as a result of the explosion; close to 8 million suffered from radiation worldwide by 2001; and close to 1 million evacuated and resettled from most severely contaminated areas of Belarus, Russia and Ukraine.

Following a major earthquake in Japan, a tsunami disabled the power supply and cooling systems of three reactors at the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant, causing a nuclear accident on March 11, 2011. The nuclear accident is regarded as the second worst nuclear power plant accident in history. It is also regarded as the worst in the last 25 years.

There were no certified deaths as in the case of the Chernobyl disaster. Reports say people living very close to the plant were evacuated within 36 hours of the accident. But many more living up to 25 miles away, were not moved out until six weeks after the accident.

Two years on and over 40% of 130,000 children who lived around Fukushima are exhibiting signs of thyroid cancer, while other diseases may only become apparent decades later. Plants and marine life have been contaminated and it is feared the effects of the accident will be with Japan for decades.

Dr. Rianne Teule, a radiation expert with Greenpeace, is reported to have said the potential effects of radiation from Fukushima have been shamefully downplayed. He said it could be decades before the real impact would be seen by the world. ?The likelihood is that thousands of people are at risk of cancer and other diseases from Fukushima disaster,? he added.

Abusuapanin, can you imagine a nuclear disaster in Kwabenya and the country desperately trying to evacuate people in Kwabenya and surrounding areas like Madina? Can you imagine this country grappling with the effects of a radioactive material for three decades or more? These are the questions I expect our Members of Parliament to find honest answers to before even attempting to debate the nuclear energy bill.

I would liken Asomdwekrom?s attempt at developing a nuclear plant to a person who deliberately puts his fingers in a blazing fire. We do know that this country does not have the capacity to evacuate persons within a 25-mile radius of a nuclear disaster scene. We also do know that the country does not have what it takes to ensure the safety of its citizens in case of a nuclear disaster. Why then are we in a haste to engage in such a risky venture when there are other safer ways of producing energy?

Solar energy, for instance, is far safer than nuclear. Even though it is only 2 mega watts (MW) of power, I applaud the government for investing in the solar plant inaugurated in Navrongo last week. We need more of those.

I believe I?m speaking for most of my compatriots when I say we do not need the kind of energy that would make us sleep with one eye closed and the other opened. Yes, we do need power; but, certainly, not the kind that would put our lives and those of generations unborn at risk. Come again, Hon. Buah!

See you next week for another interesting konkonsa!

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