“………..the bigger issue should be that uranium mining is just a very dirty business that we didn’t clean up but source out. France used to have 200+ uranium mines but thanks to better care for environment and workers the last one closed in 2001. Instead, new ones were opened in places like Niger, Namibia and Malawi. In short: places where we can shift the real costs from uranium mining to the people and environment. As a matter of fact, CEOs in the business are quite frank about that. The former CEO of Paladin, John Borshoff, an Australian uranium producer who opened mines in Namibia, said that Canadian and Australian environmental norms are “over-sophisticated“. What he actually means is that in African countries you don’t need to pay much or anything at all to “protect” either your workers or the people living in the vicinity from dying from cancer due to exposure to uranium.
He’s just implementing the Lawrence Summers Principle. This ‘principle’ originates from a 1991 memo written or dictated by Summers whilst he was the World Bank’s chief economist. In this memo, he promoted dumping toxic waste in the Third World for economic reasons: “Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? […] A given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.”
The uranium sector squared up to that. But for how much longer will it get away with that?
Last time rebels in Mali came too close to the AREVA mines in Niger for comfort, France suddenly sent in their army. Under some humanitarian pretext. And if rebels don’t succeed in capturing these remote mines, the global environmental justice movement might just succeed in closing a couple of them down.
The legacy from uranium mining
Being part of that movement, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of making a toxic tour around a now closed uranium mine in Bulgaria. Massive amounts of toxic sludge were stored behind a weak dam that showed signs of distress after heavy rains caused a spill in 2009. Old EU money was still keeping the dam up but as we’re talking about radioactive waste, money will need to keep flowing to dam repairs for millennia to come.
Since 1992, when the mines closed, and for time immemorial, that will be public money. And that’s how it goes with uranium mines in places with weak or no legislation: short-term private profits followed by perpetual public losses. In Bulgaria the people are still lucky enough to be in the EU with at least some environmental regulations and EU money for environmental protections. The same goes for other EU countries like France, which has dozens of zombie mines: dead but still active. The US also has plenty more zombie mines. The lands of the Navajo Nation include over 500 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) as well as homes and drinking water sources with elevated levels of radiation. Despite the fact that they stopped operating in 1986, new and related lung cancers, bone cancers and impaired kidney functions keep appearing.
But while EU and US now have enough safeguards to keep their own uranium safe under the ground, there’s nothing of that in Namibia or Niger. These two countries are rising players on the uranium market, both exporting their uranium to the EU. Niger has now produced more uranium than France ever did in it’s whole history. It’s here that UK-Australian and French companies are doing the dirty digging that destroys local environment and populace.
Three reports from the EU-funded EJOLT project deal with the environmental and social issues related to uranium mining. One deals with the impacts, one concentrates on a mine in Malawi and the third dwells on the examples of successful resistance to big mining in general.
Bruno Chareyron, a French nuclear engineer who authored most of these reports, has been carrying out toxic tours along uranium mines for the last two decades. That’s not always an easy job, with for example the police confiscating most of your measuring equipment upon arrival in Niger. Nevertheless, Bruno was able to measure that radioactive scrap metal from the mines and mills is sold on the market. Waste rocks from the mines were used to pave roads, build homes and even at the local hospital where the radiation was 100 times above normal. Piles of radioactive waste were left in open air, unprotected, next to two cities with a total population of 120.000.
The missing piece of the puzzle
Where is uranium in the whole debate about nuclear energy? It’s usually only mentioned when the industry says: uranium is only a tiny part of the total cost of our energy model, unlike the situation in the gas and oil industry.
Well, there’s a reason why it’s only a tiny part of the total cost and it’s called cost shifting.
Ecological economists have given names to processes witnessed in the uranium sector:accumulation by contamination, ecologically unequal exchange and ecological debt. More and more, people all over the world are coming together to resist against environmental justice.
Our EU and US based nuclear power is currently coming at the cost of poisoning people in Africa. But it begs the question: are we ready to face that reality?
Nick Meynen is one of The Ecologist New Voices contributors. He writes blogs and bookshttp://www.epo.be/uitgeverij/boekinfo_auteur.php?isbn=9789064455803 on topics like environmental justice, globalization and human-nature relationships.
When not wandering in the activist universe or his Facebook pagehttps://www.facebook.com/nick.meynen
is dead, he’s probably walking in nature.
Nigeria: Say No to Nuclear Energy in Nigeria AllAfrica, 1 May 16“…..Nigeria’s history of disaster management or maintenance culture in the past and the present has much to be desired of, so how can it want to project into a future of nuclear energy with all the attendant risk.
It does not take an expert in Nuclear energy to be able to state basic obvious facts that are glaring. Any major mishap involving radiation leaks from nuclear energy can lead to a disaster of catastrophic proportion that could lead to thousands of death, long term health problems, spikes in cancer incidents and birth defects. The devastation of a nuclear disaster in a highly populated country like Nigeria would send shock waves around the world. A breach in the nuclear containers of a nuclear reactor or a nuclear meltdown would release nuclear materials into the atmosphere and ground and could literally obliterate parts of the country and turn them into waste lands and “ghost lands”.
No matter how prepared even the extremely prepared and efficient countries are, in a case of a nuclear disaster they can only try to mitigate the damage, so what chance would Nigeria have if a nuclear melt down were to occur in the country. Even if the argument is that the likelihood of a nuclear disaster is minuscule, should Nigeria of today, the way it is, subject its people to that risk? The risk out weighs the benefit.
Countries try to get rid of their radio-active waste, yet a Nigerian shipped it into his country and dumped it amongst his people. The community, struggling under their daily routine for survival did not sense the eminent danger and instead opened up the containers, used them to collect water and for other domestic use. By the time the government brought it to public knowledge, the people in the affected area of Koko had been exposed to radiation. When scientist came with Geiger counters to measure the amount of radiation in the area and also on the people, a lot of them did not understand what was going on and had little understanding of the dangers of nuclear radiation. Have the people of Koko been followed? Have longitudinal studies been done on their health status? Were children born in that area since the episode monitored? Is the soil in that area still being tested regularly or have the people of Koko been forgotten? These are but a few of the questions…….
Nigeria is blessed with sunshine; it can invest in solar energy. It has vast areas of empty flat land so it can invest in wind energy by using turbines……..http://allafrica.com/stories/201605010001.html
5 Nigerian universities host nuclear energy centres of excellence —NAEC August 28, 2015 Premium Times Franklin Osaisai, chairman of the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission, NAEC, has said that five Nigerian universities now host nuclear energy centres of excellence.
Mr. Osaisai, who disclosed this in an interview with newsmen on Friday in Abuja, said that the Nuclear Technology Centre, Sheda, was also a part of the nuclear centres of excellence.
He said the first two were the Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT), Ahmadu Bello University (ABU), Zaria and Centre for Energy Research and Development (CERD), Obafemi Awolowo University (OAU), Ile-Ife.
He listed the latest centres as the Centre for Nuclear Energy Research and Training (CNERT), University of Maiduguri, and Centre for Nuclear Energy Studies (CNES), University of Port Harcourt.
The other is the Centre for Nuclear Energy Studies and Training (CNEST), Federal University of Technology, Owerri.
According to him, the establishment of these centres without a corresponding increment in the allocation to NAEC led to the reduction in funding of CERT and CERD.
“It is the mandate of NAEC to develop nuclear technology for the economic development of the country and produce and dispose atomic energy.
“To carry out research into matters connected with the peaceful uses of atomic energy, among others.
“CERT and CERD are arms of NAEC but in order to boost capacity of nuclear research and training, government created a lot of other centres.
“Remuneration, compensation, allowances are part of the public service and everything is paid according to guidelines.
“We have tabled the challenges of funding the centre to before the appropriate authorities; everything is now paid through IPPIS.’’……….http://www.premiumtimesng.com/news/more-news/189141-5-nigerian-universities-host-nuclear-energy-centres-of-excellence-naec.html
Uyo — The Akwa Ibom State Leaders Caucus has rejected plans by the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) to site a Nuclear Power plant in Itu local Government Area of the state. The group attributed their rejection of the Nuclear Power plant to disastrous consequences that failure of nuclear plants had brought in other parts of the world.
The leaders’ caucus questioned why Nigeria, which they said had a perennial incompetence in matters of safety and security, could venture into such a risky project, while countries with known competences, like Germany, Italy, USA, Russia and Japan are shutting down such plants.
Nigeria: Community leaders oppose nuclear plant site, Star Africa, APA July 3, 2015 The Leaders Caucus of the Akwa Ibom State in south-eastern Nigeria has rejected plans by the Nigerian Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC) to site nuclear power plant in Itu Local Government Area of the state.
He wondered what gave Nigeria, where perennial incompetence in matters of safety and security has become legendary, the impetus to venture into such a risky project, while countries with known competences like Germany, Italy, US, Russia and Japan are shutting down such plants.
Okon said that gambling with such risky issue by Nigeria was a clear and deliberate invitation to disaster of monumental proportions.
Declaring Akwa Ibom as grossly unsuitable for such projects, the leaders noted that the location of nuclear plants all over the world is done far away from human habitation, noting that Akwa Ibom is small and compact, even as there is no distance across the state that is beyond 50km……….http://en.starafrica.com/news/nigeria-community-leaders-oppose-nuclear-plant-site.html
NGO warns FG That Setting up a nuclear power plant in Nigeria would be suicidal, FunGrade, 29 June 15
Mr Nnimmo Bassey, the Director, Health of Mother Earth Foundation (HOMEF), said setting up a nuclear plant in Nigeria would be suicidal given the high level of operational challenges it would face. Bassey said this in Abuja while presenting a paper titled: “Risks and deaths as workers generate wealth’’ organised by HOMEF’s Sustainability Academy on Health and the Extractive Sector Workers. The News Agency of Nigeria reports that the programme was sponsored by the UNDP and the Federal Ministry of Environment in collaboration with HOMEF. He said that the setting up of a nuclear plant was suicidal because of the high technical and environmental demand associated with handling radioactive materials. “Uranium and nuclear power plants are inseparable. ”
Nigeria has found it difficult to run simple hydroelectric and thermal power plants. “It would be suicidal to install nuclear power plants here,’’ Bassey said. The director said the proposal to site such a facility in Akwa Ibom would not be advisable because of the serious environmental implication. “And to think of locating one in Akwa Ibom State is nothing but adding insult to injury in an already highly polluted Niger Delta. “It will also be a time bomb set against the workers,’’ he said. Bassey said that the sustainability academy was aimed at highlighting the fact that workers and communities were at the frontlines of exposure to toxic chemicals that often result in fatalities. The director further said that more than 2.3 million workers worldwide had been exposed to work-related diseases or accidents annually. He said that more than one million extractive industries workers die annually of toxic chemical across the globe.
Nigeria in $20bn nuclear power talks with Russia – struggling S. Africa currently has eight times more capacity 14 APR 2015 BLOOMBERG, JOSEPH BURITE “………….South Africa, with a third of Nigeria’s population yet eight times more installed capacity, has also signed an agreement with Rosatom as the nation looks to add 9,600 megawatts of atomic power to its strained grid.
South Africa’s agreement with Rosatom gave the company the right to veto the nation doing business with any other nuclear vendor, Johannesburg-based Mail & Guardian reported in February.
Rosatom and Nigerian officials met last month within the framework of a 2009 intergovernmental agreement to discuss cooperation, Rosatom spokesman Sergei Novikov said by phone from Istanbul. To date, no memorandums have been signed about the development of a nuclear plant, he 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, Osaisai said. “The government will enter a power-purchasing agreement for the nuclear plant.”
The plants will be financed by Rosatom, which will then build, own, operate and transfer them to the government, he said.
Rosatom is marketing its reactors with generous financing offers as Moscow seeks new markets for its technology amid a looming recession. Over the last year, its international portfolio of orders has grown to more than $100 billion, including deals to build new reactors in Iran, Hungary, India and Jordan.
Africa’s sole nuclear power station is Koeberg in South Africa, which is owned by state-owned Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. (Bloomberg) http://mgafrica.com/article/2015-04-14-nigeria-in-20bn-nuclear-power-talks-with-russia-struggling-s-africa-currently-has-eight-times-more-capacity
Nigeria to get $6bn nuclear plant in 2022 – commission PUNCH, MAY 15, 2014 BY OLUSOLA FABIYI The Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission has revealed that the country will get a nuclear plant in 2022 at a cost of $6b dollars.
The Director, Human Resources of the commission, Professor Simon Mallam, who stated this on Thursday when he appeared before the national conference committee on Energy, also urged the Federal government to explore and develop all sources of energy available in the country…..Mallam further advised that although the country wasted a little time in the nuclear arena, it would still be able to deliver nuclear power by 2022 if the enabling environment and support could be given….http://www.punchng.com/news/nigeria-to-get-6bn-nuclear-plant-in-2022-commission/
critics are worried that the project will do the country more harm than good. They say the effect of radioactive substance cuts across both geography and politics, and if not properly managed, may compromise not only the lives of the present generation but also several generations yet unborn.
What Nigeria needs now is investment in safe alternatives that will not harm the environment and the people.
Furore over nuclear power plant in Nigeria The Guardian, 06 SEPTEMBER 2012 00:00 FROM CHUKWUMA MUANYA AND EMEKA ANUFORO, FOCUS PRESIDENT Goodluck Jonathan and the relevant agencies set up to actualize Nigeria’s dream of becoming a “nuclear power” are excited that the national nuclear power programme has reached an advanced stage.
Nigeria and Russian had in June begun implementation of a nuclear power generation agreement signed in June 2009, to facilitate cooperation on the development of nuclear energy for peaceful purposes. Continue reading
Jonathan assures the world of Nigeria’s nuclear safety, Vanguard, MARCH 26, 2012 · By Emma Ujah ABUJA — President Goodluck Jonathan has assured the global community that Nigeria will ensure that adequate safety measures are deployed when the country introduces nuclear power into its energy mix.
Speaking at the opening of the Nuclear Security Summit in the South Korean capital, President Jonathan declared that Nigeria remained fully committed to complying with all international legal and regulatory requirements for safety and security in the use of nuclear
Nigeria loses over $20bn to illegal bunkering, oil theft yearly – Presidential aide Nigerian Tribune, 26 March 2012 EVERY year, Nigeria loses about 40 million metric tonnes of petroleum products amounting to about $20 billion (N3 trillion) to crude oil theft and illegal bunkering, Mr Leke Oyewole, a Senior Special Adviser to President Goodluck Jonathan on Maritime Affairs has said….. He said the loss was sequel to sharp practices characterised by numerous leakages, adulteration of products, as well as diversion of refined imported products by some of the players in the upstream and downstream sectors of the oil and gas industry……NIMASA and NPA ought to collaborate to address issues in the offshore operations in the oil industry and mitigate the insecurity arising therefrom…….
Nigerians ‘too poor to sue over corporate abuse’, News 24 2012-02-22 Geneva – Victims of environmental disasters or other abuses inflicted by corporations in Nigeria are being denied justice as they are too poor or do not know how to seek legal recourse, jurists said on Wednesday.
“Poor rural victims of corporate human rights abuse are usually unaware of their legal rights and don’t have the financial resources to file court process, gather information and evidence, and afford legal services,” said Carlos Lopez, the International Commission of Jurists’ senior legal advisor in a report.
Even though a legal aid scheme exists, it “suffers from chronic underfunding”. “As a result, it fails to help those most in need to access judicial remedies,” added Lopez.
The problem is illustrated by the small numbers of litigations against corporations, despite several instances of serious pollution generated over the decades of oil or mineral extraction. Of the few that make it to court, even fewer manage to obtain rulings in favour of victims, noted the report…….
The UN environment agency had said that decades of extensive oil pollution in the Ogoniland region – which lies in the Niger Delta – may require the world’s biggest ever clean-up. ….
OIL POLITICS: Nigeria’s Nuclear Nightmare , NEXT, By Nnimmo Bassey, September 22, 2011, The Nigerian government appears to be scheming to get deeper into the nuclear mire at a time when the world is inching, albeit slowly, from dirty and dangerous energy sources. The fact that Nigeria has one of the worst electricity supplies in the world, with only about 40% of the population having access to public power supply does not justify toeing the nuclear path. It calls for investing in safe forms of renewable energy production. It also calls for the wastage in the gas and oil fields. Following the Fukushima incident earlier this year the dangers associated with nuclear power generation have again been brought to the front burners. With heightened concerns about the safety of nuclear power plants, it is shocking to see the Nigerian President pushing Nigeria unto the nuclear path. This may appear like a dream come true for the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, but this has all the potential of turning into a nightmare for the country. Continue reading
The idea of Nuclear plant operation in Nigeria is a joke, Segun Balogun interviews Doyin Olagbeg, September 11, 2011’ Doyin Olagbegi is a US based Nigerian and the convener of the Nigerian Million March.
Doyin Olagbeg “……….The date was Thursday February 3rd 2011. I read an article by i in a Nigerian newspaper titled “Government intensifies effort to generate power from nuclear sources.” I could not believe what I just read. As a nation we are not able to effectively manage a conventional power grid and, here we are “intensifying effort” at Nuclear power. This, to me, is a brazen “Bait and Switch” scheme, perpetrated to suction our money for the next 100 years…….
We are about to embark on another white elephant project, a very dangerous one for that matter.
All Nigerians should be mad too. Nuclear power is no child’s play. In the United States, no community wants such a project in their neighbourhood. It’s called a “NIMBY” (Not In My Back Yard) in the wake of the nuclear disaster in Japan due to earthquake. ….
All things considered, the idea of Nuclear plant operation in Nigeria is a joke like many other projects such as the Ajaokuta project, the refineries. Nigerians, we need to wake up, and stop this nuclear train idea before, it leaves the station. Otherwise, we’ve got another giant sucking “black hole” scheme coming…..
UN, Bank Of Industry to invest in renewable energy in Nigeria, NEXT, By Bassey Udo June 20, 2011 The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the Bank Of Industry (BOI) are to invest about $4.48 million in renewable energy projects in the next three years to boost the productive capacities of micro- small- and medium-scale enterprises (MSMEs) in the country’s rural and urban areas.Renewable energy projects in volve the utilisation of wind, biomass, small hydro, and solar energy options to generate electricity. The Access to Renewable Energy (AtRE) project package unveiled yesterday in Abuja at the formal launch of the partnership, is expected to facilitate access to affordable and reliable energy supply alternatives independent of the current supply from the national grid, which has been a source of national concern in recent times. …..UN, Bank Of Industry to invest in renewable energy in Nigeria
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