NUCLEAR ENERGY IN KENYA
The state has embraced Nuclear Science study and seemingly solidifying grounds on establishing a Nuclear Power Plant. Due to increased concerns on nuclear waste disposal and dilemma associated therewith, some countries like US are seeking for contractors to help in disposal of their nuclear wastes, while Germany is shutting down her nuclear plants.
The big question remains; “Is Kenya ready for Nuclear Waste Management in terms of technology and policies? How effective is the disaster management in Kenya? Do the advantages of harnessing nuclear power outstrip the disadvantages?
Statistically, nuclear power is safer when used in power generation than coal. However, based on the risk matrix, the consequences resulting from nuclear incident are more catastrophic, though the likelihood of happening is very rare. When compared to coal, nuclear energy has few occupational fatalities and industrial incidents.
According to Gitahi Kariuki (http://www.businessdailyafrica.com/Opinion-and-Analysis/Kenya-must-start-planning-now-for-nuclear-power-energy/-/539548/917770/-/10ef425/-/index.html), there is a possibility of having a nuclear power plant by 2030s if adequate planning is done.
Taking an example of United States, the Chernobyl accident released radiation from both the burning coal and nuclear weapons testing. This combination exposed the public to more radiation than it could have been if it was nuclear power alone.
Also, the Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania in 1979 is rated as the only nuclear disaster that released enough radiation to cause five cancer deaths in a general population for the next 30 years. On the other hand, incidents resulting from coal mining and electricity are more catastrophic than this.
The major environmental challenge resulting from nuclear power generation is the disposal process of radioactive wastes like nuclear fuel rods, uranium mill tailings and general radiation-contaminated material wastes.
Any options for nuclear waste disposal?
- One of the proposed options in disposal of nuclear waste is to store in long-term facility that allows enough time for radioactive materials to decay. The isotopes decay to safe levels after an approximate duration of 10,000 years. Thereafter, the wastes are cooled underwater for many years, vitrified, and then stored in concrete bunkers above the ground.
- Kenya does not have the technology to dispose nuclear wastes, neither does the world, and so, the nuclear wastes are piling up at an alarming rate. The Kenyan economy is still developing and its disaster management capabilities are still at the infant stages.
- It is said that terrorist attack at a nuclear facility will make Kenya unlivable.
The Kenyan government was right in forming a nuclear board so as to start preparing the country for any prospective nuclear power generation.
We hope that the board will formulate necessary policies and create the required institutions. Meanwhile, there are other viable options for Kenya; renewable energy; geothermal, wind and solar.