Nigeria’s experience in power outages as a result of inadequacy in generation further increased the interest in the nuclear option in the country’s quest to diversify its power generation options, Director, Centre for Energy Research and Training (CERT), Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. S.A. Jonah has said.
Prof. Jonah was speaking on Monday at the opening ceremony of a five-day IAEA-AFRA regional course on demonstration of conditioning operation and storage of Disused Sealed Radioactive Sources (DSRS) for managers, scientists and technicians of nuclear wastes at the research centre.
The objective of the training course is to train local experts and facility operators to acquire sufficient capacity to carry out the handling and conditioning operation under the supervision of IAEA experts.
This involves demonstration on how to characterize, condition and repackage disused sealed radioactive sources (DSRS); and the specific purpose is to provide the practical know-how as well as the hands-on experience to the participants.
Prof. Jonah, who noted that the use of sealed radioactive sources in Nigeria had witnessed an upward surge in health, industrial and petroleum sectors of the economy, explained that globally the interest in nuclear power was also growing to meet the demand for electricity while reducing their carbon dioxide emissions.
“It may be the only source of reliable base load energy for the future, especially with the discovery of substantial amount of uranium in sea water, as well as the fusion reactor technology.
“Therefore, as we continue our march into peaceful applications of nuclear energy in Nigeria and with the successful hosting of this training course at CERT, I would like to assure everyone that we will not rest on our oars in the delivery of peaceful applications of nuclear science and technology to Nigerians as enshrined in our Statute”, he said.
Jonah, a professor of nuclear and reactor physicist, further said that the management of nuclear and radiological materials in a professional manner was very critical for sustainability and socio-economic development of African sub-region.
He said that the training course was to have taken place much earlier than now, but for some unforeseen circumstances, especially COVID-19 pandemic, stressing that the hosting of the training workshop would mark the beginning of more IAEA hosted activities at CERT.
While welcoming the IAEA team of experts led by Miss Vivian Pereira Campos and participants from AFRA countries – Ghana, Ethiopia and Nigeria, Prof. Jonah also said that Nigeria ranked top among countries ready to host training course on the demonstration of conditioning operation under the Project RAF9062.
This, he further explained, was because quite a number of spent radioactive sources had been generated from various practices using radioactive sources, and many of these sources were presently stored in the waste management facility at CERT.
In his remarks, the Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission (NAEC), Prof. Yusuf A. Ahmed, acknowledged the various supports the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had been providing to Member States through regional and international projects for handling and conditioning of disused sealed radioactive sources.
The conditioning process, which must follow an established procedure, according to him, was carried out to limit the risk of exposure of disused sealed radioactive sources to people and environment.
Prof. Ahmed, who was represented at the occasion by Prof. A.A. Mati of Centre for Energy Research and Training, Ahmadu Bello University, Zaria, also stressed that Nigeria recognized that a long term commitment to the peaceful, safe and secure use of nuclear technology was based on a sustainable organizational, regulatory, social, technological and economic infrastructure development.
He said that this was in addition to the formulation of deliberate policies and implementation to ensure the safe operation of the nuclear installations throughout their entire life cycle.
Also speaking, the Vice-Chancellor, Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Kabiru Bala, who declared the training workshop open, said that the University would continue to support CERT as a Centre of Excellence in promoting education and training with regards to nuclear science and technology in the country.
The Vice-Chancellor expressed the University’s immense appreciation to IAEA for its support to CERT in particular and Nigeria in general through the provision of training and research facilities for over three decades.
“In furtherance of this endeavor, only last month, the IAEA and ABU signed an agreement to participate in the Internet Laboratory Project (IRL) on the sideline of the 66th IAEA General Conference”, he said.
This, according to him, was to enhance the teaching and practical applications of nuclear reactor physics in Ahmadu Bello University and other Nigerian universities, which hitherto were limited to theoretical concepts.
Miss Vivian Pereira Campos, who led the IAEA team of experts to the training course, gave an overview of the programme, saying that the essence of the workshop was to provide the participants with requisite skills and techniques to carryout the conditioning operation in the future without guidance and supervision.
Goodwill messages were delivered at the occasion by the Secretary, IAEA-AFRA Management Committee and Deputy Dean, Faculty of Life Sciences, Ahmadu Bello University, Prof. Maryam Aminu; Prof. Sunday Adeyemi Adewuyi, who represented the Chief Medical Director, Ahmadu Bello University Teaching Hospital; and Malam Abdullahi Saleh Na’Allah, who stood in for the Director-General of the Nigerian Nuclear Regulatory Authority (NNRA).
Some of the personalities present at the opening ceremony of the training course included Course Director, Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission, Mr. Emmanuel C. Akueche; and representatives of the Nigeria Defence Academy (NDA) and Nigerian College of Aviation Technology (NCAT), Air Commodore A.I. Hanidu and Malam Nasir Mu’azu, respectively.