Senator Omtatah to take the Uyombo nuclear power plant war international

Environmentalists say geothermal not exploited and as they stopped the Lamu coal-fired plant, they will stop this one.

In Summary

• Opponents to visit potential investors, explain why plant unwanted; project ‘will be stopped before they invest’.

• Nuclear energy officials said Kenya lacks major source of stable energy, such as nuclear, so big investors stay away.

Busia Senator Okiyah Omtatah with environmentalists at Turtle Bay Beach Club on Friday.
Busia Senator Okiyah Omtatah with environmentalists at Turtle Bay Beach Club on Friday.

Busia Senator Okiya Omtatah has said he will mobilise environmentalists to fight the proposed nuclear power plant in Kilifi on the international stage.

He said foreign investors pushing for the plant in Uyombo in Kilifi and said they will be stopped before they invest.

“The fight should not be fought from here within. We must take the fight to the doorsteps of the people who want to invest in the project, and stop them before they come,” the senator said on Friday.

He told Uyombo residents they used the mass mobilisation tactic to stop similar plans to establish a coal plant in Lamu in 2013.

“When we reached out to potential investors and told them it would destroy the environment, they withdrew their money and the project died,” Omtatah said.

“Also with this one meant for Uyombo, we must go abroad where the money is coming from and stop it from there.”

The government, through the Nuclear Power Energy Agency (Nupea), plans to set up a Sh500 billion nuclear power plant at Uyombo, in Matsangoni, Kilifi North subcounty.

The plant would have a capacity of 1000MW, key to increasing the electricity supply to the economy and help reduce reliance on dirty thermal plants.

However, after much opposition from environmentalists and residents, agency officials said they are still conducting preliminary feasibility studies. Then they will embark on a proper environmental impact assessment.

Land and Environment Defenders representative Boniface Mwangi said poverty has pushed Kilifi residents to terrorism, extremism and the nuclear power plant would aggravate the problem.

He said the Sh500 billion intended to set up the plant in Uyombo village should be invested in improving the lives of Kilifi residents.

On Sunday afternoon, Senator Omtatah met Uyombo residents after an earlier meeting of the Senate Energy Committee with experts and Nupea officials aborted. It was stopped when it emerged the matter is in court, where environmentalists are seeking an injunction.

Senator Omtatah, the Centre for Justice, Governance and Environmental Action and residents had petitioned the Senate to intervene and stop the proposal.

A Senate Energy Committee report indicated the government is yet to fully tap the geothermal potential of the Rift Valley for more than two decades, he said.

“There are tycoons who took licenses to exploit that potential. Twenty years down the line, not even a single borehole has been drilled to try and generate geothermal energy,” Omtatah told Uyombo residents.

“Nuclear energy is mostly used by countries that are snowy and cold. In Kenya, we have the sun, wind and other sources of energy. We should fully exploit those first,” he said.

On Friday, Nupea engineers said wind and solar are not stable sources of energy and they cause frequent power interruptions, which are dangerous to home appliances and manufacturing.

Nuclear, they said, is one of the most stable source of energy that can even sustain big industries.

Speaking last Friday during a meeting of the Senate Energy Committee with experts in Watamu, before it aborted, Nupea officials said Kenya has been depending on unstable energy sources. That is why it does not attract big industries, they said.

“We have lost business to other countries because of our relatively poor power. That is why we want to explore stable nuclear energy to have stable power and attract big international industries,” a nuclear engineers said at the Turtle Bay Beach Club in Watamu.

Muhuri's Francis Auma, Senator Okiya Omtatah and activist Boniface Mwangi at the Watamu Marine Park on Saturday.
Muhuri's Francis Auma, Senator Okiya Omtatah and activist Boniface Mwangi at the Watamu Marine Park on Saturday.
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