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Uganda’s 30,000 megawatts from Uranium by 2026

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Added 20th June 2018 03:04 PM

Proponents advance the notion that nuclear power produces virtually no air pollution, in contrast to the chief viable alternative of fossil fuel.

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Proponents advance the notion that nuclear power produces virtually no air pollution, in contrast to the chief viable alternative of fossil fuel.

ATOMIC ENERGY
 
By Sam Mucunguzi
 
KAMPALA - The ministry of Energy lists nuclear energy as part of its priorities in its policy statement of FY 2018/2019 - 2022/2023.
 
The government in June 2017 signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with a Russian firm on possible cooperation in the area of peaceful application of atomic energy.
 
In January 2018, President Museveni, met the IAEA Director General, Yukiya Amano, at State House Entebbe for discussions on Uganda's nuclear ambitions in areas of energy, health and agriculture. 
 
Further said, countries like Uganda need to utilise their uranium mineral not to make nuclear bombs but Nuclear energy.
 
In 2013, China had 32 nuclear reactors under construction, the highest number in the world, Uganda will join  Southeast Asia nations which by 2025 plan to have a total of 29 nuclear power stations: Indonesia will have four nuclear power stations, Malaysia four, Thailand five and Vietnam 16 from nothing at all in 2011.
 
Proponents argue that nuclear power is a sustainable energy source which reduces carbon emissions and can increase energy security if its use supplants a dependence on imported fuels.
 
Proponents advance the notion that nuclear power produces virtually no air pollution, in contrast to the chief viable alternative of fossil fuel.
 
Proponents also believe that nuclear power is the only viable course to achieve energy independence for most Western countries.
 
Government already procured the services of AF-Consult Switzerland Limited to work with Technology Deployment Working Group on a study on integrating nuclear power into the generation capacity plan 2015–26.
 
Uganda plans to produce up to 30,000 megawatts of electricity from its uranium by 2026. President Museveni has in the past defended Uganda's nuclear ambitions even at high level meetings like the United Nations Security Council. 
 
Preliminary surveys by the ministry of Energy and Mineral Development so far identified four districts of Buyende, Lamwo, Kiruhura, and Mubende as potential sites for nuclear energy production.
 
Critics however say that nuclear power poses many threats to people and the environment, and that costs do not justify benefits.
 
Threats include health risks and environmental damage from uranium mining, processing and transport, the risk of nuclear weapons proliferation or sabotage, and the unsolved problem of radioactive nuclear waste. Another environmental issue is discharge of hot water into the sea (water bodies).
 
The hot water modifies the environmental conditions for marine flora and fauna. They also contend that reactors are enormously complex machines where many things can and do go wrong, and there have been many serious nuclear accidents. 
 
Until the recent Fukushima nuclear accident, Chernobyl was considered the worst nuclear accident in history.
 
A month after the initial Fukushima accident began, Japan and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) finally admitted that enormous amounts of high level radioactive carcinogens were released from the nuclear plant on March, 11, 2011, and that the accident assessment should be raised from a “Level 5-Accident with Wider Consequences, in terms of its human death toll and environmental damage to a “Level 7-Major Accident”. 50,000 households after radiationleaked into the air, soil and sea. Radiation checks led to bans of some shipments of vegetables and fish.
 
Critics do not believe that these risks can be reduced through new technology. They argue that when all the energy-intensive stages of the nuclear fuel chain are considered, from uranium mining to nuclear decommissioning, nuclear power is not a low-carbon electricity source.
 
Those countries that do not contain uranium mines cannot achieve energy independence through existing nuclear power technologies.
 
Actual construction costs often exceed estimates, and spent fuel management costs do not have a clear time limit.
 
“Since the 2011, March 11 earthquake, tsunami and nuclear accident at Fukushima first began; we’ve heard a constant chorus of lies and misinformation from Tokyo Electric Power Company (TEPCO), Japanese government officials, the U.S. Nuclear Regulatory Commission and the Obama Administration.
 
"First, we were assured that the radiation released by the Fukushima nuclear plant “is safe and poses no health risk”.
 
"Then, the drum beat changed to, “there’s no immediate danger” from the radiation, Soon, residents were ordered to evacuate their homes within 12 miles and stay indoors within 20 miles, as if wind born radiation can’t infiltrate around doors and windows.
 
"Days later, President Obama cautioned U.S. citizens living within 50 miles of the nuclear plant to leave the area." 
 
The Chernobyl disaster occurred in April 1986, the worst nuclear accident in history. An experiment was being carried out on one of the reactors in the plant there was a steam explosion which exposed the reactor's graphite moderator to air, which caused it to ignite.
 
The resulting fire sent highly radioactive plumes of smoke into the atmosphere for about ten days.
 
The radioactive plume spread over large areas of Europe. Approximately 350,000 people were evacuated from the 3200 kilometers squared exclusion zone.
 
The accident caused 31 direct deaths from the explosion and radiation poisoning, and several more deaths in the population exposed to high radiation doses.
 
The nuclear industry says that new technology and oversight have made nuclear station much safer, but 57 small accidents have occurred since the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 until 2008.
 
Two thirds of these mishaps occurred in the US. The French Atomic Energy Agency (CEA) has concluded that technical innovation cannot eliminate the risk of human errors in nuclear station operation.
 
A team from MIT in 2003 estimated that given the expected growth of nuclear power from 2005 – 2055, at least four serious nuclear accidents would be expected in that period.
 
Meanwhile, as we blindly accept the lies and misinformation about nuclear power, we’re force-fed the nuclear industry’s invisible and deadly radiation without even knowing it or being able to prove where our cancer, potentially years down the road, came from.
 
Radiation is invisible and knows no boundaries. It’s commonly accepted in scientific circles that there is no safe level of radiation and all radiation, including low doses, is cumulative and can cause cancer.
 
Nuclear power is the most dangerous and expensive way to boil water to make electricity. The disasters at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima demonstrate the nuclear power industry’s willingness to needlessly risk the health of humanity and our environment. 
 
The author is the programmes coordinator, Citizens’ Concern Africa (CICOA)
 
 
 
 

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