An Open Letter to the Atomic Energy Commission and the Government of Jordan

الخميس 26 أيار 2011

By Anne Sawalha

We, concerned members of Bassira-Insight, petition the Atomic Energy Commission and the Government of Jordan to rescind all agreements that will permit mining for uranium and building a nuclear reactor in the kingdom. The decisions these people make today will affect Jordan for decades to come, long after they have left their seats of power. They don’t have the right to spend millions of Jordanian Dinars and apportion vast water resources for these projects that endanger our environment and threaten our lives and those of our children. There can be no return on this investment that is worth the expense and its inherent dangers when there is an alternative.

The feasibility of mining uranium in Jordan has yet to be proven to the nation. The process of mining requires water and if the quality of the uranium is low, more water and sulfuric acid are needed to extract the ore. Uranium ore emits Radon, a known cancer causing agent, a gas that moves freely in the air we breathe. Unacceptable use of water, poison gas in the air, and the pollution of Jordan’s limited ground water will be the heritage that we Jordanians must deal with in order to mine uranium needed to fuel a nuclear reactor.

Operating the reactor presents specific challenges. The legacy of Fukushima is still front-page news highlighting the damage that an earthquake can do to a nuclear reactor. Containing the devastation is ongoing, intensifying the suffering of the Japanese people as well as threatening other nations. There is no guarantee that any given site in Jordan will be safe from an earthquake.

Vast quantities of fresh water are needed to cool the reactor.  Exploiting our water resources for this is unacceptable. This nation has been classified as the fourth thirstiest nation in the world and we need our limited water supplies for agriculture and our very survival.

Maintenance of a nuclear reactor will require expertise and dedication every minute of every day. No short cuts in standard operating procedures can be tolerated without threat of dire consequences. Safeguarding the reactor will be ongoing and subjected to human error, which is always with us.

Radioactive nuclear waste must be dealt with and is a grave hazard itself. The pollution involved in the storage and disposal of this toxic material is a problem much more serious than we, as lay people, can imagine. Our national performance on disposing standard human waste, plastic bags and bottles, simple batteries, hospital waste, and other debris of modern life isn’t the best and begs to be improved. How are we going to manage nuclear waste?

Most countries in the world that have nuclear reactors are decommissioning them and not building new ones. If they have become such a threat, such dinosaurs, we must question the government’s plan to ‘go nuclear.’ Jordan is blessed with at least 300 days of sun during the year at no expense to us. We have wind that is reliable and steady on a daily basis.  Instead of squandering our limited resources on uranium mining and building an unstable, life threatening nuclear reactor, we must direct our nation’s assets elsewhere. Jordan has the potential to be in the forefront of harnessing solar and wind sources for renewable energy. This must be our priority.

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