Nuclear power is the source of the great industrial potential in the modern world. All progressive countries aims at building nuclear plants. And Nigeria should think of it too.
The Nigerian Nuclear Program was founded in 1976 while Nigeria’s civilian nuclear energy aspirations began in 2007, when Umaru Yar'Adua said the country planned to add nuclear power to the national grid by 2017.
Nigeria is one of the most populated countries in Africa but only about 40% of the people are connected to the energy grid. The people who actually have power experience difficulties around 60% of the time.
Nigeria has research reactor Ahmadu Bello University in Zaria. The Nigeria Research Reactor-1 is used for training purposes and is powered by enriched uranium. NIRR-1, which was built by the Chinese, was commissioned in 2004 during President Olusegun Obasanjo’s administration, though the government of President General Sani Abacha subsequently awarded the contract.
In 2014 Goodluck Jonathan at the Nuclear Security Summit in The Hague said that the country will develop a nuclear energy industry.
According to the latest information Nigeria is in talks with Russia’s Rosatom to build as many as four nuclear power plants costing about $80 billion.
Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Franklin Erepamo Osaisai said that a joint coordination committee is in place and negotiations are ongoing for financing and contracting.
Osaisai announced that Nigeria signed an agreement with Rosatom to cooperate on the design, construction, operation and decommissioning of a facility in 2012. A further three nuclear plants are planned, taking total capacity to 4,800 megawatts by 2035, with each facility costing $20 billion. The first Nigerian plant will be operational in 2025.
The peak electricity output of Africa’s biggest economy is about 3,800 megawatts, with a further 1,500 megawatts unavailable because of gas shortages.
Chief Executive Officer said: “Rosatom will hold a majority, controlling stake in Nigeria’s nuclear facility while the rest will be owned by the country, with roles to be specified in contracts. The government will enter a power-purchasing agreement for the nuclear plant.”
However, some experts are very sceptic to this idea.
Wole Olaoye, who has been covering Nigeria’s nuclear aspirations for decades warned: “We have security problems in Nigeria right now. And I don’t want to think of a situation where we will manage the fallout of a nuclear leakage. With the level of incompetence with which we have treated our hydro-power stations. I don’t see us managing nuclear power competently and efficiently.”
The National Union of Electricity Employees (NUEE) has also warned the Federal Government against building a nuclear plant because of the adverse consequences of the facility.
According to it, the union is worried that the country does not have the required capacity to manage disasters that may arise from a nuclear accident. It said that nuclear plants were among the most sophisticated and complex energy facilities and no matter how well designed and engineered, they could have lapses. The organisation added that without mincing words, concerted efforts and political will were required to address the problem of ‘power poverty’ in the country.
The country needs to think outside the box of building nuclear plants because of the attendant consequences. Building of nuclear plants in Nigeria would no doubt subject the citizens to unavoidable risks. The statement said that a combination of human and mechanical error at a nuclear facility could result in significant harm to people and the environment.
It noted: "Operating nuclear reactors contain large amount of radioactive fission projects which if dispersed, could pose direct radioactive hazards. It can also contaminate soil, vegetation and be ingested by humans and animals. Human exposure at high levels could cause both short-term illness and death by cancer and other diseases".
Nuclear explosions can release high levels of radiation, energy that removes electrons from atoms and can damage DNA. While areas around a nuclear explosion are immediately exposed, radiation can also remain in the atmosphere for decades, traveling great distances before it settles to the ground-level air or Earth's surface.
As of January 2015, 30 countries worldwide are operating 437 nuclear reactors for electricity generation and 71 new nuclear plants are under construction in 15 countries.Nuclear power plants provided 12.3 percent of the world's electricity production in 2012. In total, 13 countries relied on nuclear energy to supply at least one-quarter of their total electricity.