Akwa Ibom community doubts ‘benefits’ of proposed nuclear energy plant
Indigenes of Oku-Iboku Community in Itu Council Area of Akwa State have expressed doubts over the purported benefits of citing a nuclear energy plant in the area.
This comes as the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) commenced awareness and enlightenment campaign on the nuclear energy power project.
The campaign, which began in Uyo yesterday saw traditional rulers, community leaders, women, youths, professionals, politicians and Chairman, Itu Council Area, Etetim Onuk, discussing the benefits of nuclear energy.
Project Manager, Nigeria Nuclear Power, Professor Matthew Agu, who spoke on Sustainable and Reliable Energy for Economic Growth, said there were several benefits of a nuclear power plants in its host community.
He said nuclear energy was friendly, safe and cheapest than thermal and solar energy, stressing that it was quite environmentally friendly.
“The Nuclear Power Energy industry plays an important role in the social-economic growth of the country. This ranges from job creation, provision of basic amenities to generation of domestic economic value in electricity sales and revenue.
“A recent analysis found that nuclear power plants create some of the largest economic benefits compared to other electric generating technologies due to their size and number of workers needed to operate the plants.
“Operation of nuclear plant requires 800 to 1, 200 direct jobs per reactor,” and urged the people of the community and entire state to accept the proposed plant as it would improve on their living standard.
Speaking on behalf of Itu Concerned Patriot, Prof. Okon Ansa said the concern of the people was problems of safe storage of waste materials, stressing that in case of accidents, Nigeria has no capacity to manage the emergency crisis that may emanate from the nuclear plant.
He argued that the establishment of the nuclear plant would pose a huge threat to national security because nuclear plant materials could enter the wrong hands, adding that siting a nuclear plant in the community would endanger people’s livelihood, which remain fishing and farming.
“Notwithstanding the several advantages of generating power from a nuclear plant as canvassed by NAEC in this enlightenment campaign, we feel very strongly that it will be counter-productive to site such a plant in the state in view of the huge challenges.
Responding, Onuk, expressed doubt over the nuclear energy power project, saying although it was gladdening for the Federal Government to remember Itu Council in siting the project, it was disheartening to note that nuclear plants pose a grave danger to residents.
“Without sounding immodest, let me state that from the conception of the idea to site a nuclear plant in Itu Council Area, our elders, stakeholders, traditional rulers, and the politicians unanimously oppose it,” he added.