By Patrick Biddah
The Director General of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission ( GAEC) , Prof Samuel Dampare, has called for the need, for the establishment of an ionizing radiation processing plant in the country.
He said, such facility will go a long to reduce the effects of plastics in the country and the environmental challenges it currently poses.
According to him, not only will the setting up of the plant help address the plastic menace in the country, but the application of it technology is highly beneficial, because revenue generation is assured.
Although, it is estimated that the cost of establishing such a plant is within the region of $10m , Prof. Dampare, was of the view that recouping one’s investment into the plant can be achieved in no time because of the available market and demand .
Speaking at a stakeholders meeting on the nuclear technology for controlling plastic programme ( NUTEC) at the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission yesterday, the Director General, suggested that the plant can be located in their enclave at Kwabenya, since they have scientists whose work revolve around the technology.
He urged international and local big players, such as the International Atomic Energy Agency ( IAEA) to help GEAC go in for the Electron beam type of plant , which he said is the modern one.
In order to make the setting up of the plant become a reality , he urged the mother agency, the IAEA and waste management company giant such as Zoomlion Ghana Limited, to help see to the establishment.
“We would even be happy and prefer the electron beam type which is the modern one being used “, he noted.
Suggesting other areas in the country where the plants can also be strategically set up apart from Accra, he mentioned Tamale in the Northern region, Gomoa in the Central region, and Techiman in the Bono East region as some of the other suitable places where the facility if set up , canserve other Ghanaians .
Already, a concept proposal, he revealed has been presented to the Minister For Environment, Science and Technology for considerationwhich has also been forwarded to the Ministry of Food and Agriculture for their input..
If all goes well, Prof Dampare, further indicated that another benefit that can be derived from this technology is that it helps to preserve food stuff for a very long time, citing cereals and tubers as well as sterilizing medical equipment.
The workshop brought together producers of bottled water, Non Governmental Organizations ( NGO) that ate into plastic recycling, officials from the Ministry of Water Resources and Sanitation as well as waste management companies.
An expert on plastics at the International Atomic Energy Agency( IAEA) ,Dr Chantara Thevy Ratnam, who delivered a presentation ,noted that the new radiation technology for polymer is a way of filling in the existing gap in technological waste management.
She said the usefulness of this technology includes the use of very less chemicals but still able to producehigh penetration on products.
The IAEA , she noted is ready to support countries with the technology by sending scientists from the Agency to help share knowledge on the use of the technology.
The deputy director of Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute, Dr Fidelis Ocloo, who also gave a presentation, highlighted the challenges which plastics continue to pose.
“it has been projected that by 2025 the oceans will contain one ton of plastic for every three tons of fish and by 2050 there may be more plastic in the oceans than fish”, he warned .
With the estimation that 52, 000 tons of plastics are produced yearly in Ghana , Dr Ocloo, indicated that there was the need to devise other ways to dealing with the increasing threat .
A research therefore was carried out to see how best to use the ionizing radiation as a complementary technology to give less effect .
“It is to be used for the recycling of hard to recycle plastic waste into novel intermediates materials with enhance functional properties such as pavement blocks “, he emphasized.