Saturday, 4 February 2017

Why We Must Never Contemplate Building A Nuclear Power Plant In Ghana

It is so unfortunate that those who lobby for a nuclear power plant in Ghana, completely ignore the consequences of an accident in any such nuclear power plant, should one ever be built in our country.

We should never contemplate building a nuclear power plant in a corruption-riddled society full of dishonest officials who regularly take kickbacks to enable design specifications to be varied by crooked contractors to the detriment of Mother Ghana.

Any nuclear power plant built in Ghana will doubtless be defective from the word go for that reason.

And if we are unable to deal effectively  even with the relatively simple challenges involved in the disposal of waste generated by households,  industries, hospitals, schools, prisons, etc., etc., what right do we have to saddle future generations of our people with having to  live with the manifold problems and risks  associated with the storage of radioactive nuclear waste generated by nuclear power plants?

A culled Guardian newspaper report from Japan, written by Justin McCurry, shows how even a wealthy, disciplined and largely corruption-free society, such as Japan,  is still grappling with the consequences of a triple-meltdown at a nuclear power plant on the shores of Fukushima Daiichi in Japan, six years after a nuclear accident triggered by a massive earthquake, took place.

If that accident had occured at a Ghanaian nuclear power plant, by now two thirds of the country's total  populatiin would have succumbed to radiation sickness and died after unimaginable suffering. 

Hopefully, the Guardian article will be an eye-opener for many of those who go along with the arguments of Ghana's pro-nuclear lobby, because they believe access to cheap power is worth the risks involved in building and operating a nuclear power plant in a nation with a Byzantine system, which is  dominated by respectable-looking rogues milking their country dry at every procurement opportunity that turns up for them.

If radioactive waste from nuclear power plants remain dangerous for thousands of years and need to be safely and  securely stored, whiles being closely guarded all that time by state security agencies,  why take an uneccessary  risk to build one here?

The question is: If today advances in utility-scale storage technologies  mean that distributed generation now makes possible renewable energy  micro-grids - which  empower individual households and communities to go off-grid and become energy-independent - why build a nuclear power plant that will cost tens of billions of dollars, will take ages to build and pose a real danger to society on top? It simply does not make sense.

We must never contemplate building a nuclear power plant in our homeland Ghana - for the consequences of accidents at such a power plant and the multiple dangers posed by the storage of radioactive waste it will generate far outweigh whatever cost advantage electricity from such a power plant will provide Ghanaians.

And even that affordable electricity factor is debatable - as the price of renewable energy keeps plummeting and in some instances is much  cheaper than power from nuclear power plants.

Please read on:

Fukushima radiation levels at highest level since 2011 meltdown

Justin McCurry in Tokyo February 2017 10.19 GMT

Extraordinary readings pile pressure on operator Tepco in its efforts to decommission nuclear power station triple meltdown almost six years ago.

The facility’s operator, Tokyo Electric Power (Tepco), said atmospheric readings as high as 530 sieverts an hour had been recorded inside the containment vessel of reactor No 2, one of three reactors that experienced a meltdown when the plant was crippled by a huge tsunami that struck the north-east coast of Japan in March 2011.

The extraordinary radiation readings highlight the scale of the task confronting thousands of workers, as pressure builds on Tepco to begin decommissioning the plant – a process that is expected to take about four decades.

The recent reading, described by some experts as “unimaginable”, is far higher than the previous record of 73 sieverts an hour in that part of the reactor.

A single dose of one sievert is enough to cause radiation sickness and nausea; 5 sieverts would kill half those exposed to it within a month, and a single dose of 10 sieverts would prove fatal within weeks.

Tepco also said image analysis had revealed a hole in metal grating beneath the same reactor’s pressure vessel. The one-metre-wide hole was probably created by nuclear fuel that melted and then penetrated the vessel after the tsunami knocked out Fukushima Daiichi’s back-up cooling system.

“It may have been caused by nuclear fuel that would have melted and made a hole in the vessel, but it is only a hypothesis at this stage,” Tepco’s spokesman Tatsuhiro Yamagishi told AFP.

“We believe the captured images offer very useful information, but we still need to investigate given that it is very difficult to assume the actual condition inside.”

The presence of dangerously high radiation will complicate efforts to safely dismantle the plant.

A remote-controlled robot that Tepco intends to send into the No 2 reactor’s containment vessel is designed to withstand exposure to a total of 1,000 sieverts, meaning it would survive for less than two hours before malfunctioning.

The firm said radiation was not leaking outside the reactor, adding that the robot would still prove useful since it would move from one spot to the other and encounter radiation of varying levels.

Tepco and its network of partner companies at Fukushima Daiichi have yet to identify the location and condition of melted fuel in the three most seriously damaged reactors. Removing it safely represents a challenge unprecedented in the history of nuclear power.

Quantities of melted fuel are believed to have accumulated at the bottom of the damaged reactors’ containment vessels, but dangerously high radiation has prevented engineers from accurately gauging the state of the fuel deposits.

Earlier this week, the utility released images of dark lumps found beneath reactor No 2 that it believes could be melted uranium fuel rods – the first such discovery since the disaster.

In December, the government said the estimated cost of decommissioning the plant and decontaminating the surrounding area, as well as paying compensation and storing radioactive waste, had risen to 21.5tn yen (£150bn), nearly double an estimate released in 2013.
shima Japan Asia Pacific Japan disaster Nuclear power Energy"

End of culled Guardian article by Justin McCurry.


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