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Ghanaian Nuclear physicist regrets fear to develop nuclear energy
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General News of Monday, 25 September 2006

Source: GNA

Ghanaian Nuclear physicist regrets fear to develop nuclear energy

Accra, Sept. 25, GNA - Professor Edmund Osae, Former Deputy Director-General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission, on Monday said overcoming the fear to build nuclear energy now was a sure means to save the country from its recurring energy crisis.

Speaking to the Ghana News Agency in Accra on Monday, he said: "Building a nuclear power for our electricity generation now is the best thing that could happen to us to free the country from the energy crisis since it does not require a lot of fuel. "Besides, the country has the capacity and expertise to develop and efficiently manage nuclear energy, so let's stop trading fear and anxiety that the development of nuclear reactors will cause explosions."

He said globally nuclear power was being developed at a fast rate because of its competitive cost compared with other forms of electricity generation, except where there was direct access to low cost fossil fuels. Prof. Osae, who is a nuclear physicist, said: "Vietnam has developed two nuclear power plants ...so what about Ghana. We are getting late and fear has gripped the nation but why should that be when about 38 countries in the world have more than 400 nuclear reactors." Arguing further he said, US alone had developed 103 nuclear reactors and had proposed 21 more whereas China with about 10 had also proposed to develop more reactors due to its growing cost effectiveness.

"What are we crying about? We did not know how to build thermal power plants some years ago, but today is it not Ghanaians who are manning the thermal power in the country? "People talk about the management of the waste, but it's only a small portion of nuclear power that is waste forgetting that there are techniques to reprocess them and take out the protactinium, which is used to manufacture the bomb."

Besides, Prof. Osae, who is also an Evangelist, said Ghana had ratified the international treaty against developing nuclear bomb. Therefore, the issue of developing nuclear power should not come in. "Today 40 per cent of Korea's power is from nuclear plant. What are we doing because Ghana's nuclear research centre was set up in 1995 and every year experts from the International Atomic Energy come to inspect it?"

Dwelling on the economics of nuclear power, Prof. Osae said fuel costs were minor proportions of total generating costs though capital costs were greater than those for coal-fired plants. Meanwhile, a report of major European study of the external costs of various fuel cycles, focusing on coal and nuclear, has shown that in clear cash terms nuclear energy incurs about one-tenth of the costs of coal.

Experts' position is that the uranium has to be processed, enriched and fabricated into fuel elements whilst allowances are made to manage the radioactive spent fuel and the ultimate disposal of this spent fuel or the waste separated from it. The total costs of nuclear power plant as in the Organisation of Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) are about one-third of those for a coal-fired plant and between a quarter and a fifth of those for a gas combined cycle plant.

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