Public education on Nuclear Energy: Graphic joins GNA

Accra, June 3, GNA – The Graphic Communications Group Thursday pledged its commitment to work with the Ghana News Agency to provide accurate and comprehensive information on the use of nuclear energy as a complementary source for driving Ghana’s industrialisation.

Mr Kobby Asmah, the Editor of the Daily Graphic, made the commitment when he hosted a delegation from the Ghana News Agency (GNA), Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) and Nuclear Power Ghana (NPG), at the head office of the Company.

The meeting is part of the stakeholder engagement on Ghana’s Nuclear Energy Programme.

The delegation engaged the Editorial Department of the Company towards the training of its personnel and the establishment of an Energy Desk to join a media network, which would help the public to understand nuclear energy issues – uses, benefits, safety, security, environmental, dangers and mitigating factors.

Mr Asmah said it was unfortunate that the public discourse on nuclear power, which was often misunderstood by lay persons, was truncated after the overthrow of Dr Kwame Nkrumah, who planned it as an alternative source of energy to propel Ghana’s industrial growth.

A sustained engagement, he said, was imperative for the public buy-in of a nuclear energy programme, which was built on a long-term planning, processes and implementation strategy and approval.

“I’m however, happy that we are resuming the conversation. Share the knowledge with us, and we will competently, convincingly and accurately impart and inform, and we believe that with the GNA leading this effort through Graphic and other key media stakeholders, we will see the light at the end of the tunnel,” Mr Asmah said.

Nuclear Power Ghana, on Tuesday, signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the GNA, as part of its strategic stakeholder engagement to build public trust and strengthen understanding of issues on Nuclear Power Plant Technology.

Mr Asmah said since developing a nuclear programme was capital intensive and may come with some concerns, consistent and patient communication with all stakeholders would lead to a larger public buy-in and the commitment of governments to fund and sustain the programme in the public interest.

Mr Albert Kofi Owusu, the General Manager of the Ghana News Agency, welcomed Graphic’s collaboration, saying, it was key for reaching Ghanaians across the country.

He said with the clearance now given to the Agency to recruit editorial staff, it was poised to revamp its specialised desks to provide credible comprehensive, quality and focused information for nation building.

The newly established Energy Desk would, therefore, work with the Business/Economic, Agriculture, Tourism and other Desks to provide information on multimedia platforms for subscribers.

Additionally, Mr Owusu said, some of the Editorial staff, especially, the new ones, would be deployed to understudy some of the Agency’s media subscribers to understand their operations better to serve their needs.

Ms. Bellona-Gerard Vittor-Quao, Head of Communications, NPG, said it was imperative to get credible media organisations with nationwide coverage, such as the Graphic Communications Group and the Ghana News Agency, to tell the important story that utilising nuclear energy would lead to sustainable, reliable and affordable energy.

Organisations, such as the Graphic Group, and industries, she said, would be able to reduce their operational costs and also plan ahead since a nuclear plant could run for 18 months before shutting down for maintenance.

For his part, Professor Benjamin J. B. Nyarko, Director-General of GAEC, said the Nuclear Energy Programme was holistic with a lot of prospects for industrial growth and employment avenues for all kinds of professionals.

Training would, therefore, be given to media practitioners to understand all of its aspects to educate the public to clear their misconceptions and allay their fears.

For instance, he said, nuclear waste, generated by the plant in small quantities, was only handled by highly trained professionals to prevent hazards.

The media should, therefore, continually educate the public to understand that all safety, security, environmental and other concerns regarding nuclear plants were considered and mitigation measures put in place as part of the long-term planning processes.

He said the programme would not be approved by the International Atomic Energy Commission if it did not address all the 19 issues of fulfilment.

Dr Stephen Yamoah, Executive Director of NPG, said it was important for all citizens to understand that nuclear power development could not be rushed or fast-tracked as it had to satisfy international standards, treaties and conventions.

However, public acceptance, he said, was critical for the success of the programme, explaining that some nuclear plants in some countries had become white elephants because of lack of public ownership.

Dr Yamoah said fortunately, Ghanaians were already enjoying the benefits of nuclear science and technology, which was being applied in the Agriculture, Industry, Trade and Health sectors.