The Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG), the entity spearheading Ghana’s quest to establish a nuclear power plant, has held a three-day capacity-building workshop for selected media professionals in Accra.
The workshop, which was on the theme: ‘Nuclear safety, public fear and concern’, gave the media professionals more insight into the International Atomic Energy Agency’s (IAEA) safety requirements at each stage of nuclear power plants with facilitators allaying the notorious fear that nuclear energy is hazardous to human health.
Delivering a welcome address, Nuclear Power Ghana’s Public Affairs Manager, Ms Bellona-Gerard Vittor-Quao, explained that nuclear energy, as a technology, requires a lot of engagement with the public and with the media being close to the people, the capacity of the professionals needed to be built to educate the public to accept the alternative source of energy.
She noted, therefore, that the decisions on building plants, supporting government funding and investing in the nuclear industry depend on public acceptance.
Nuclear safety, she continued, is one of the most important components of any international and national commitment associated with the use of nuclear energy for electricity generation, adding that “it covers a wide range of activities such as ensuring proper operating conditions for nuclear installations, preventing accidents, and mitigating the consequences should they happen.
“This explains why the planning and eventual construction of a Nuclear Power Plant is very detailed and includes decommissioning activities. It is a well-regulated space and requires very careful planning and execution,” Ms. Vitor-Quao clarified.
Ms. Vittor-Quao said history has proven nuclear energy to be one of the safest and most efficient energy production technologies available to Ghana.
“History has also shown us that misperceptions about nuclear technology have been far more costly for humanity than nuclear energy production itself. For over half a century, nuclear energy has played a significant role in the industrialisation and development of most developed countries,” she explained further.
Not only is nuclear a viable, low-carbon base-load power source but is also one of the safest options for powering a green future.
Concluding, she said: “With scientists and engineers figuring out how to split the atom, harness its energy and convert it to usable electricity, and they continuing to improve reactors and safety systems, this is an opportunity for a future of clean, sustainable electricity.”
President of the Ghana Journalists Association (GJA), Albert Kwabena Dwumfour, in a speech, read for him by Kofi Yeboah, General Secretary of JGA, underscored the need for the workshop to be organised regularly to sharpen the skills of journalists.
Touching on the theme: ‘Nuclear safety: A public fear and concern’, Mr Dwumfour said it was appropriate because of the negative perception many people hold about nuclear energy.
“In our part of the world, such perception is even worse due to what we see on television and read about the use of nuclear energy for destructive purposes in other parts of the world,” he said.
He emphasised that journalists and the media must educate the people to enable them to fear no more and to do that, journalists and the media need to understand the beat so well.
As part of the training workshop, NPG took the journalists to the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) where they visited the Nuclear Power Institute to familiarise themselves with the operations of the research centre and the functions of the research reactor.
The Director General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Prof. Samuel Boakye Dampare, commended the organisers and lauded the media for making themselves available for the workshop.