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HomeNewsItu People Reject FG’s Proposed Nuclear Plant in Oku Iboku

Itu People Reject FG’s Proposed Nuclear Plant in Oku Iboku

_…Says It Is Dead On Arrival_

By Nsidibe AKPAN

The people of Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom State have rejected in its entirety the proposed siting of a nuclear power plant in Oku Iboku by the Federal Government of Nigeria.

The Chairman of Itu Local Government Council, Barr. Etetim Onuk stated this during a community awareness and enlightenment campaign organized by the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) on a nuclear energy power project in Itu Local Government Area on Wednesday, December 18, 2019. The local government boss said nuclear power plants come with grave danger to the people of the area.

“It is with mixed feelings that I attend this event today; this is so because while it is gladdening to be remembered in the scheme of things as it relates to the siting of projects in Itu Local Government Area by the Federal Government, it is disheartening to note that the nuclear plant proposed to be cited in Itu Local Government is not without grave dangers for us.

“Without sounding immodest, let me state emphatically that from the conception of this idea to site a nuclear plant in some parts of Itu Local Government Area, the elders, stakeholders, traditional rulers and the political class had risen in unison to oppose it. As we all know, Akwa Ibom State is a major oil and gas producing community, as such the federal government should be thinking of establishing refineries and gas turbines for us, instead of introducing anti-people projects.” Onuk said.

“One should note that before a high-risk project like this one is cited anywhere, the following should have been done; Feasibility Studies that informed the decision to site the project in Itu, as against the rest of the 774 Local Government Areas in Nigeria; Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) of the project conducted in order to enlighten the people of the consequences of such project on our environment; Environmental Impact Permit (EIP) obtained for the siting of the project, as well as remedial and rapid response preparedness in the event of a nuclear disaster or radiation leak.

“I stand here to state that we reject the proposed siting of a Nuclear Plant in Itu Local Government Area in its entirety and we consider the project dead on arrival,” he added.

“Besides, one would have thought that a project of this magnitude, apart from meeting the above-listed prerequisite, should have obtained the permission of the state government. Your letter only had a copy of the letter you sent without any corresponding reply to that effect. It is, therefore, safe to conclude that the State Government is not comfortable with this project.”

The Council boss went further to list out the dangers posed by the nuclear project.

“I am not an expert in nuclear technology, but to the best of my knowledge, even as a layman, I know that there are monumental hazards inherent with such projects. I will, therefore, leave those aspects to the experts who are present in this meeting to enunciate.

“I know such areas would include but not limited to Nuclear waste, Nuclear proliferation, National security, accidents, cancer risk, cost competition with renewable energy; energy dependence on other countries,” he concluded.

Meanwhile, stakeholders in Itu local government under the umbrella of Concerned Itu Patriots also raised concerns over the proposed nuclear power plant in Oku Iboku.

This was contained in a release signed by Prof. Okon Ansa; Council Chairman, Barr. Etetim Onuk; Mr. James lniama; Bishop George Demson; former Transition Chairman, Deaconess Elsie Esara; Dr. Ekong Demson; Engr. Bassey Okon; former Secretary to the Akwa Ibom State Government, Obonganwan Grace Ekong; former Senator representing Uyo Senatorial District, Senator Anietie Okon; former member, Itu State Constituency, Dr Ekaette Ebong Okon; member Itu State Constituency, Hon. Kufreabasi Edidem and Dr Edem Esara.

The group, while acknowledging the benefits of a nuclear power project, said that the disadvantages outweigh the advantages of such a project in the area taking into consideration the population density of the state.

The group stated that if nuclear power project is sited in Oku Iboku, the area is at risk of facing what happened in Fukushima Daiichi disaster in 2011, Three-mile Island in the USA, Chernobyl nuclear disaster in Ukraine which led to complete abandonment of that city till date.

They also expressed fears that radioactive materials could very easily be converted for use in a damaging weapons program against the locality and the country by terrorists, stating that any radioactive material escaping from the plant will cause considerable harm to the population.

“The arguments against Nuclear Power Plants are safe storage of waste material which are by-products of the electricity production process; accidents which can and do occur leading to massive loss of lives and damage to the environment; National Security issues in the event of the Uranium from the plant falling into the hands of terrorists like Boko Haram and Al-Qaeda in the Maghreb”, the group informed.

The release also states that “population density in Akwa lbom State has a land area of 8,412.499 km2 and a population of 3,920,208 going by the 2006 census figures which would mean a population density of 466.03 persons per square km. The projected figure for 2018 is 5,828,267 amounting to a population density of 804 persons per square km. This population density is one of the highest in the country.

“All over the world, the general principle in the siting of a nuclear power plant is to have the facility in a sparsely populated area and far away from large population centers. This means that emergency planning in case of a nuclear disaster would then be directed at a smaller population group. If other factors are relatively equal, the choice of a site with a lower population density would be prudent.

“It is worthy of note that Akwa lbom State is made up of very compact and closely-knit communities and local government areas. This is a state where one can traverse more than five (5) local government areas in less than an hour. In the event of any nuclear accident from the plant, the damage to the state will be monumental.”

The group also mentioned the land use requirement, livelihoods, the Cross river — a biodiversity hot spot and gas deposits in Akwa Ibom State.

“Notwithstanding the numerous advantages of generating power from a nuclear plant as canvassed by NAEC in this enlightenment campaign, we feel very strongly and professionally that it will be counterproductive to site such a plant in the State in view of the aforementioned issues.

“It is necessary to note that no matter the correctness or appropriateness of the technical, economic and legal considerations in the siting of any project, the granting of social license by the people is paramount for project sustainability.

“We strongly believe that we are speaking the minds of the AkwaIbom citizens in this submission and posterity will exonerate us from blame for the negative consequences of any inadvertent nuclear disaster,” it concluded.

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