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Sunday, December 5, 2021

Kilifi Residents Oppose Nuclear Plant

Kilifi residents and stakeholders are up in arms over the proposed setting up of a nuclear power plant in Matsangoni, Kilifi North Sub County.

During a public consultation meeting in Kilifi town, they rejected the proposed nuclear power plant to validate the Strategic Environmental and Social Assessment (SESA) Report.

They claimed that the project’s negative impacts outweigh the positive. 

The residents who are among the stakeholders of the SESA conducted at the Kilifi county Governor’s grounds by Nuclear Power and Energy Agency(NuPEA) dismissed Kenya’s Nuclear Programme’s report from fears that citizens might be forced to bear the cost of health-related complications and environmental impacts in case of a nuclear spill. 

Led by the Executive Director of the Center for Justice Governance and Environmental Action, Phyllis Omido said her team has not yet received clear information on the safety measures put in place to tackle the environmental hazards that the project will cause to the residents.

“There are a number of questions from stakeholders and environmentalists that have not been clearly responded to and that most of the solutions the nuclear agency has offered are unrealistic,” she said in an interview. 

“We have not been clearly informed on the precise sites where the project will take place. We have been told that the waste will be disposed of into the moon Space by the year 2036 and this seems unrealistic to us. Authorities responsible for managing the environment also lack the capacity to monitor and regulate nuclear power plants”, Ms Omido added.

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According to Pwani University Lecturer Dr Joseph Tunje, a slight mistake from the project’s implementation could be the onset of the citizens’ problems, reasoning that energy hazards are detrimental to human’s life and the country at large.

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 He added that corruption being a major setback of the country’s development, it will not be an exception in interfering with the project’s proper implementation. 

“The community is not clearly informed about the project. I feel that as a country, we have not reached the level of taking risks in implementing an energy power plant considering the underlying harmful impacts associated with it. We can still explore other alternative sources of energy like wind energy, solar energy and geothermal instead of nuclear energy. As Kilifi residents, we say NO!”, Tunje said. 

The scholar said that their efforts to counter the project proposal are not only for their sake but also for the coming generations. 

While addressing the media during the SESA meeting in Kilifi, the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency director Eng. Erick Ohaga said that the Agency intends to open a regional office in Mombasa to ensure a day-to-day engagement in order to counter the biggest challenge of public acceptance of the project just like any other. 

Erick assured that safety is one of the environmental issues the agency has prioritized in the project’s proposal and thus residents should not be troubled. 

“Issues to do with safety are of much concern to us. As we have said, we will not be allowed to continue with our nuclear program if we can’t demonstrate that the public and the environment are well taken care of in terms of safety. We are hopeful that by the time we hit the ground approximately in the next 15 years, we should have developed those policies and regulations to give us the go ahead”, Erick said. 

While responding to the claims, NuPEA Director for Legal and Regulatory services Justus Wabuyabo said that they have identified lack of clear information as the major gap existing among citizens while promising to take the responsibility of informing the residents about the project. 

“Just as the constitution requires, we will ensure that the residents clearly understand the project. As of now, you need to understand that we are only conducting public consultation in order to gather the citizens’ opinions. We cannot yet say where specifically the project is, until we conduct a detailed study as an agency”, Wabuyabo said.

He added that the agency has only identified general areas where the project will be implemented namely Kwale, Kilifi and Lamu County.

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National Environment Management Authority(NEMA) Senior Environment officer Reagan Awino told the media that his organization is keen in involving public participation in implementing environmental-related projects without discrimination just as the Kenyan constitution stipulates. 

SESA meeting stakeholders present in the meeting included Civil Society Organizations, NEMA, Kilifi County Government, scholars and Kilifi County residents.

*This article was written by Ramadhan Kambi for Uzalendo News.  Email: uzalendonews24@gmail.com to submit your story.

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