Despite the disaster at Japan’s Fukushima nuclear station and Germany’s bold move to shut down all nuclear reactors by 2020, it seems the Middle East is still set on a nuclear future. Israel has hinted that it may build a ‘safe nuclear station’, Turkey is pushing on with its nuclear ambitions and Jordan recently announced that it is forging ahead with plans to build its first nuclear power plant despite local resistance and regional instability.
This Tuesday, around 40 anti-nuclear campaigners gathered in Amman to ask the Jordanian government to re-think its plans to build a 1,000 megawatt nuclear reactor by the end of the next decade. According to The Jordan Times, they wore black t-shirts reading ‘no to a nuclear reactor’ and expressed concerns about the effects of nuclear power and uranium mining on the public health and environment.
Jordan is heavily reliant on imported energy – it currently imports 96% of its energy – and the government has claimed that the nuclear reactor will help the country become more self-sufficient. The country has massive uranium reserves that are estimated to be worth around $7 billion which could be utilized in nuclear power stations.
However, the protesters noted that other renewable sources of energy hadn’t been properly assessed and also any benefits from nuclear energy are far outweighed by the risks such as those demonstrated by the meltdown of the Fukushima nuclear station in Japan.
Basil Burgan, an anti-nuclear activist who heads a coalition of 16 NGOs and organised the event told the Jordan Times, “We have came to a point where nuclear power has begun to take priority over solar and wind energy and we want to say that a small desert county like Jordan has no need for a nuclear power programme.”
Another criticism leveled at the Jordanian government is the fact that country, much like Turkey, sits on a fault line making it vulnerable to earthquakes. As a water scare country, Jordan is also badly placed to provide the copious amounts of water that are needed to cool a nuclear reactor. Despite these obstacles, Jordan is pushing on with its nuclear plans and expects bids from private investors to help finance the reactor in the coming month.
:: Image via Batir Wardem
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