By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Warning that “there is no such thing as a safe nuclear reactor,” environment activists staged a sit-in on Wednesday to express their rejection of the Kingdom’s nuclear programme.

Wearing gasmasks and white overalls and surrounding themselves with radioactive nuclear waste barrels, scores of young men and women lay down on the street near the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources yesterday to symbolise the dangers of nuclear development on human life.

The sit-in was organised by Greenpeace Jordan, which urged the government to consider the country’s abundant renewable energy resources as an alternative to nuclear power.

“We see repeated nuclear energy reactor disasters, such as Fukushima and Chernobyl. Jordan stands in a position to avoid such disasters and build energy sovereignty on the basis of clean and safe renewable power generation,” noted Raefah Makki, communications director of Greenpeace’s Arab World Project.

“We fully reject the establishment of a nuclear reactor in Jordan; nuclear power is dirty and unsafe and threatens the security of all countries,” she told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The Kingdom’s nuclear power programme, which calls for the establishment of a 1,000 megawatt (MW) nuclear reactor by the end of the next decade, entails the construction of up to four plants to produce over half the country’s electricity needs.

The country’s first nuclear power plant, to be built in Mafraq, is to be operated under a public-private partnership, a joint venture under which the government would own a 26-51 per cent equity share in the power plant.

But Greenpeace activists said Jordan has tremendous potential for the development of renewable energy that poses none of the threats of nuclear power, warning against the impact of radiation on people and the environment.

“We can’t ignore the potential impact of the nuclear plant for people in Mafraq, the first to be affected by any accident,” Zeina Hakim, a Greenpeace volunteer, said yesterday.

In a statement issued yesterday, Greenpeace warned that Jordan lies along the seismically active Dead Sea Transform Fault, highlighting that estimates predict a major earthquake every 100 years.

They also warned that nuclear technology will always be vulnerable to human error, natural disaster, design failure or terrorist attack.

The activists also pointed out that to this day, there is no permanent solution for nuclear waste.

Holding a banner calling for a nuclear-free Jordan, Omar Qubain said that Jordan is rich in renewable energy resources which can be a safe and clean substitute for nuclear energy, noting that the Kingdom has 330 days of sunshine per year.

“Jordan has one of the highest annual daily averages of solar irradiance in the world. In addition, wind speed in some areas reaches seven metres per second, compared to 4.5 metres per second for effective power generators,” the Greenpeace volunteer told The Jordan Times yesterday.