The Kenya government has turned a deaf ear on the pleas by concerned Kenyans and is going ahead with its nuclear energy project. The development of a nuclear electric energy facility seems to be revolving around other interests and not the common environmental, economic, and reliability factors.
The country is preparing to develop a 1000 MW nuclear energy plant at a substantial cost. The country’s National Environment Management Authority is aggressive to receive reports and other strategies that the developers of this project are considering before they can initiate operations.
The $5 billion projects are uneconomical for the country, considering that it can generate solar energy at an affordable price. The government should study the way other countries like the UAE invested in the 1777 MWe Sweihan plant at the cost of $870 million. India also has a solar plant generating 1000 MWe for $1 billion.
Kenya should consider solar power plants because the cost of developing these plants is cheap, and the processes in this plant will be safe compared to the risky nuclear plant they want to build. The $5 billion can develop five solar power plants, each with a capacity of 1000 MWe. Additionally, it is cheaper to operate a solar power plant considering you neither hire numerous expatriates from outside the country nor spend much on maintenance of the plant.
The money spent on budgeting for a nuclear power plant, training the operators of the plant, and paying the facilitators of these activities could be utilized to develop more solar and wind energy projects.
Furthermore, a nuclear plant is not only expensive to build and run but also hazardous and environmentally unfriendly. Considering that the plant will dispatch radioactive materials into the environment, it is unhealthy for the citizens living in the region where the project will be situated. The plant can also easily explode, killing the workers and affecting the health of the residents in this region.
Additionally, the wastes from this plant would have to be transported to the only current, complete nuclear disposal site, the Waste Isolation Pilot Project in the USA, adding waste disposal costs to the budget of the project.
Even though the Kenyan government wants the country to be among the nations with nuclear power plants, the risks and dangers of suspended radioactive wastes are worse than the benefits of the power generated. The technology required in handling radioactive materials is not 100% reliable, even in developed countries. With the visible corruption rate in Kenya, it is very uneconomical and dangerous to build this facility.
The nuclear power plant can become a potential target for bombing by terrorists. Considering the reported cases of terrorist bombings, it is clear the country cannot secure the facility from such threats. A good case study for Kenya must be the Fukushima accident, which the country is still recovering from up to this moment. Finally, Kenya is not ready to handle a nuclear power plant. The IAEA should transfer its support for Kenya from this potentially hazardous project to the safer and reliable projects.