Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Kenya now eyes nuclear power

Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi. PHOTO/ FILE

Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi. PHOTO/ FILE 

By JUSTUS ONDARI [email protected]

The building of a nuclear power plant at the coast is being examined despite concerns over its safety.

According to the Kenya Gazette notice of November 26, 2010, this is one of the terms of reference of the Nuclear Electricity Project Committee headed by former Rongo MP Ochillo Ayacko.

“…identify appropriate sites for construction of a nuclear power plant along Kenya’s coastal shoreline taking into account environmental and social impact considerations,” says the notice signed by Energy minister Kiraitu Murungi.

The 13-member committee is expected to undertake civic education on nuclear power generation and lobby key players such as the Central Organisation of Trade Unions, Federation of Kenya Employers, Kenya Association of Manufacturers and the civil society.

It will ensure that all terms and conditions of the global nuclear technology watchdog, International Atomic Energy Agency, vital for approval of nuclear power plants are met.

Besides coming up with a roadmap on the project, including the timelines for atomic energy agency’s approvals, it is expected to oversee its implementation, including preparation of a comprehensive legal and regulatory framework.

The committee will also review and approve a capacity building plan targeting young Kenyans with degrees, especially in engineering and mathematics, for purposes of nuclear research and development.

Energy permanent secretary Patrick Nyoike said the government had set aside Sh200 million as seed capital for the project, which is among alternative sources the government is exploring to boost power supply and reduce reliance on hydro-electricity.

He said the country is targeting to produce at least 1,000MW from nuclear sources.

The ambitious project picked steam in 2008 when Kenya hosted a National Energy Conference during which it invited experts with knowledge on nuclear plants.

According to atomic energy agency’s, to which Kenya is a member, other African countries interested include Egypt, Morocco, Ghana, Nigeria and Tanzania.

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