Rusatom Overseas president Evgeny Pakermanov says people should not equate nuclear energy production to nuclear bombs because the two require totally different infrastructure.
In an interview at the just ended AtomExpo in Russia, Pakermanov assured skeptics that his company was advocating for peaceful use of nuclear energy in Zambia.
“Speaking about nuclear bombs and weapons, first of all, you should not confuse the two technological components because to produce nuclear bombs, you need special technologies for that but to construct an NPP, a Nuclear Power Plant, it is entirely other nuclear technologies. And when they are talking about transfer of nuclear technologies, we are going to transfer only the technologies about peaceful use of nuclear energy,” Pakermonov said.
“And of course we know that wherever you construct nuclear facilities, it is done under the strict instructions of the IAEA and everything should comply with those requirements and it should comply with the international resolutions of the relative respective nuclear use. So therefore, neither from the technical or the legal point of view can we speak about the possibility of using this technology to produce nuclear bombs; they are entirely different.”
He acknowledged that people were generally skeptical about nuclear technologies but emphasized the need for more information to change perceptions.
“On public acceptance, I should say that even in countries that have had extensive experience in using nuclear technologies, there are some public concerns from time to time about these technologies but all those concerns depend on the fact that people know very little about nuclear technologies. For example, everyone knows about the Hiroshima accident but only few people know that nobody died as a result of this accident. And the more information the government the company is ready to give to the public, the more the people know about this technology and the better the public acceptance is,” Pakermanov said.
“And I can give you another example, not many people know about this but in Russia, a lot of people were concerned about some possible, highly unlikely, but some accidents that Russia had but those fears or concerns didn’t have any ground. Some years ago, Rosatom decided to enhance a monitoring system by transmitting the results of this system online so that anybody could get those results and everybody could see what was happening and what was the level of radiation being transmitted. And since then, we have considerably improved public acceptance in our country and there are no more gossips or concerns about the dangers.”
He disclosed that dangers of disposing nuclear waste had been minimized by the emergence of new technologies to do so efficiently.
“Of course the concerns about dumping nuclear waste exists but with modern technologies, we are able to minimize this problem because we are able to treat fuel and active waste very effectively and everything that we cannot recycle, we can bury and get rid of efficiently,” he said.
Asked to project the time it would take for Zambia to have a fully fledged nuclear power plant running, Pakermanov said; “This is actually one of the focuses of the PDAs signed yesterday because under those PDAs, we want to establish clear cut schedules for the implementation and we need to sort out issues because you understand that this is a large scale long process and so it can take us about eight to 10 years but we will try to speed up the process because we know that the government of Zambia is very positive about it so we are ready to start its implementation as soon as possible and we will be able to support the government of Zambia.”
“If can speak not only about uranium mining but also about technologies and developing the nuclear infrastructure and nuclear industry in the country. Do not forget that this is the first project in Central Africa so Zambia has a lot of potential and Zambia will take leadership in terms of developing the nuclear infrastructure in Central Africa.”
During the expo, Zambia signed two contracts with the Russian government to oversee the pilot phase of the construction of a Centre for Nuclear Science and Technology in the country, among other projects.
Zambia also signed agreements with Russia on the execution of feasibility studies of the nuclear power plant to be built in the country.