By Hana Namrouqa

AMMAN – Greenpeace Jordan activists on Thursday raised large banners at Jabal Amman’s busy Second Circle, warning against the hazards of Jordan’s projected nuclear programme and calling for considering renewable energy sources as a substitute.

The banners attracted the attention of motorists and pedestrians in the area, while many others joined the activists in their “stand-in”, organisers said yesterday.

“This is not a protest; we are here to tell people about the plans for establishing nuclear plants in Jordan and to raise public awareness on the hazards of nuclear energy,” Zein Hakim, a Greenpeace activist, told The Jordan Times yesterday.

The volunteers gathered at the Second Circle early on Thursday morning and stayed until the evening.

“We want to spread the word as much as possible. We want our banners to be seen by people when they head to work, during their lunch break, on their way home and when they go out at night,” Hakim highlighted.

The Greenpeace activist said the main message they seek to deliver is their objection to the nuclear programme and that Jordan can respond to energy challenges by reducing energy consumption and exploring renewable energy sources.

The Kingdom’s nuclear power programme, which calls for the establishment of a 1,000 megawatt 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.

Greenpeace activists warned against the impact of nuclear radiation on people and the environment, warning that Jordan lies along the seismically active Dead Sea Transform Fault and that estimates predict a major earthquake every 100 years.

They also warned that nuclear technology will always be vulnerable to human error, natural disasters, design failures or terror attacks, insisting that to this day, there is no permanent solution for nuclear waste.

Hakim reiterated that Jordan has tremendous potential for the development of renewable energy that poses none of the threats of nuclear power.

The Kingdom, which has 330 days of sunshine per year, 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, according to Greenpeace Jordan.

Last month, Greenpeace activists staged a sit-in near the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources to express their opposition to the nuclear programme.

Young participants wore gasmasks and white overalls and surrounded themselves with mock radioactive nuclear waste barrels to symbolise the dangers of nuclear development on human life.