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- Clemencia Jacobs
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There are no definite plans in place to build a nuclear power plant and no site has been identified for the management of the waste that would originate from such a plant, says Lydia Amutenya, spokesperson of the Ministry of Mines and Energy.
“No study has been undertaken that should lead to a definite decision of building a nuclear power plant and the management of its waste. The media seem to be ahead of the process and we caution that they provide the correct information to the public,” she told the Economist.
The Ministry of Mines and Energy held a series of workshops on a Nuclear Fuel Policy in December, which Amutenya says were supportive of Namibia’s plans to develop such a policy.
She says the participants encouraged the ministry to develop the policy in line with international laws and in consultation with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to develop the necessary “critical mass to drive the process in future.”
The delegates further discussed issues such as the need for a policy on nuclear fuel to clearly outline the beneficiation and possible incentives of a nuclear power plant, the need for sustainable development as well as the establishment of a regulatory body. The intent of uranium exploration and mining in Namibia was also reviewed.
The country can benefit greatly from a nuclear power plant as it would ensure energy security, nuclear technology and skills competency, industrial development as well as increased revenue generation through value addition and job creation.
However, environmentalists are opposed to such a development stating that it would have detrimental effects on the environment.
Bertchen Kohrs, chairperson of Earthlife Namibia, says government should rather invest in renewable energy.
“We believe that there is a lack of political will to use these resources. It is always said: too expensive. True, the construction of solar and wind power plants are still quite expensive, however, the fuel is for free whereas uranium and coal is a very expensive, damaging and finite resource. Namibia could be a leading country on the African continent by producing renewable energy instead of opting for a nuclear and a coal-fired plant,” said Kohrs recently.
Cabinet made a decision in 2003 to investigate the option of nuclear energy in Namibia. Since then, the Ministry of Health and Social Services, Office of the Attorney-General, Finnish Geological Survey and Radiation and Nuclear Safety Authority (STUK) and the Ministry of Mines and Energy drafted the Nuclear Fuel Cycle Policy. The Ministry of Mines and Energy stated previously that it would like to generate electricity from the nuclear reactor by 2018.
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