In the continuing efforts to boost the power situation in the country, the federal government is considering the nuclear energy option. This option, in addition to hydro, solar power, gas and coal currently in use, will certainly complement the energy mix in the country. In pursuance of this, the government has identified Oku Iboku in Itu Local Government Area of Akwa Ibom as the site for a nuclear energy plant. Nuclear plants the world over, have a tendency to be problematic with lasting devastating consequences. The ones that quickly come to mind are the widely reported incidents of explosions at the nuclear energy processing plant in the town of Chernobyl in Ukraine in the defunct Soviet Union and the one at Three Mile Island in Pennsylvania, United States of America, the effects of which exacted a toll in lives and in the immediate environments where the incidents occurred. People have therefore come to be wary of having nuclear power plants established in their neighbourhoods.
Even without incidents such as occurred in Chernobyl and Three Mile Island, nuclear plants by the inescapable radiation emanating from their processing units affect the air, water and environment of the immediate area of their operation. That is why as a rule, nuclear power plants are subjected to the most stringent regulations on the safety of operations within the plant and in the vicinity of the plant. It is imperative therefore to imbibe the lessons of the two incidents with respect to the proposed nuclear plant in Oku Iboku.
One of the most important and necessary safety requirements of a nuclear plant is the need for an Environment Impact Assessment (EIA). This involves the scientific assessment of the air, water, soil, flora and fauna of the area where the plant will be cited. Also, an important component of this exercise is the social mitigation aspect which must include the way of life and livelihoods of the people, their social structures, tradition and culture, occupations, health and amenities available in the area. This is with a view to determining how the project will affect their lives and how to provide necessary relief and succour as a result of possible disruption consequent upon the citing of the plant in their neighbourhood.