The Director General (DG) of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Prof. Benjamin J. B. Nyarko, has revealed that it cost the country more than $20 million to convert the Ghana Research Reactor-1 (GHARR-1) from highly enriched uranium (HEU) to low enriched uranium (LEU) before repatriating the spent fuel to China.
But instead of Ghana bearing that cost, Prof. Nyarko said the United States of America (USA) took up the cost, under the American government’s Global Threats Reduction Initiative with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in an effort to remove the use of weapon grade uranium from civilian use.
The conversion involved reducing the uranium content in the GHARR-1 from 90 per cent uranium 235, which is a weapon grade, to 13 per cent
Given that the conversion and repatriation process was a big relief to the country, the DG of the GAEC told the Graphic Business in Sochi in Russia that it was “untrue” that some sections of the general public intimated that the country had by passed other countries “to cheaply sell its highly enriched uranium to China”.
“It is the US government and the IAEA that paid for the cost of the repatriation. The whole process, including bringing in the low-enriched uranium to be loaded into the reactor and everything, was a little above $20 million,” he said at Sochi, where he is attending the 2018 ATOMEXPO.
He explained that the repatriation was done last year, bringing to an end a process that started in 2005 to help convert Ghana’s research reactor which was operated for more than 20 years with enriched uranium 235 to below 20 per cent.
Following the conversion, the GHARR-1 is now used for research and education purposes.
In September last year, President Nana Addo Dankwa Akufo-Addo announced at the General Assembly of the United Nations that Ghana, through its commitment to international peace, had returned its highly enriched uranium reactor to China.
“Africa and indeed, Ghana, remain committed to remaining a nuclear weapons-free continent. Three weeks ago, highly enriched uranium was flown out of Ghana back to China, signalling the end of the removal of all such material from the country,” he said at the time.
The announcement, however, generated discussion among a section of the public, with the Minority in Parliament demanding that the President explain why he took such a decision.
While describing such concerns as misplaced, Prof. Nyarko, who is also a Professor of Applied Nuclear Physics at the School of Nuclear and Allied Science (SNAS) at the University of Ghana, Legon, said those comments were unfortunate and a worry to the state.
“Sometimes when some of us hear these kinds of things, we start to worry because it is untrue and it made people ridicule us.
“If I have somebody who will take the core (the spent fuel) for fuel, I will thank my God because it is radioactive and dangerous. So if it was easy to do, we could have just gone somewhere, dig a hole and bury the spent fuel and take the $20 million that the Americans and the IAEA spent into something else,” he said.
“We have to pay for it; even with the storage in China, Americans have to pay for it. So if somebody is saying that you are selling spent fuel, then it is unfortunate because who will buy your waste?” he asked.
He said the country did well by including a spent fuel return clause in the contract with China in 1992, allowing the repatriation of the spent fuel to China.
“Otherwise, every spent fuel should be managed by the host country, which would have been Ghana, and storage of spent fuel is very expensive.
“If somebody says that we have sold the core, that is not true; it is not fresh uranium that you can sell,” he stressed.
The National Nuclear Research Institute (NNRI), a division of the GAEC received the GHARR-1 from China in 1994 to be used for research purposes.
However, with 90 per cent enriched uranium, it was feared that the device could be diverted into non-peaceful activities.
As a result, the IAEA partnered the GAEC to form a collaborative research project and later a working group to help convert the uranium content.
Prof. Nyarko said the conclusion of the process in 2017 made Ghana the first country outside China to successfully convert Miniature Neutron Source Reactor (MNSR) to LEU.
“It is one of the successes because we have taken the lead,” he said.
He added that the conversion was done in such a way that it would not affect the reactor safety and operation.
DELIVERED AT THE FORECOURT OF THE STATE HOUSE ON FRIDAY FEBRUARY 23, 2018
Francis Kofi Ampenyin Allotey – of the Royal Sempe Stool, Accra, of Saltpond, of Ghana, of Africa and the World.
We are gathered in the Forecourt of the State House in God’s presence to honor God’s treasure and to send his faithful servant safely Home.
In Kofi Ampenyin Allotey, we have lost both a gentleman and a gentle man, a very decent one at that!
It has fallen to my lot to deliver this Eulogy to Kofi Ampenyin Allotey in a final farewell on behalf of a grateful nation and an admiring world.
THE EARLY YEARS
My association with Prof. Allotey began in 1973 when I served under him as a Chairman of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission Board. We remained close friends from that time and discussed a multiplicity of issues till he passed on in November 2017.
Of course, a great deal will be said and written about his wondrous deeds and accomplishments because he was indeed a famous man. We all know now that though Kofi Allotey was born of ordinary circumstances, he lived an extraordinary and fascinating life as a father, academic and a renowned scholar.
From very humble beginnings, Prof Allotey defied all the odds and obstacles that came his way, and indeed there were many of those.
As we celebrate his life, we cannot but also reflect on the family environment from whence he came for, together he and his family symbolize so much about what makes this country of ours the wonderful gem that it is. Poor but proud, that family of humble circumstances strove hard and exhibited industry of a very high pedigree.
Francis Allotey was born on the 9th of August, 1932 to Alice, a dressmaker of Saltpond and the farseeing Papa Joseph Allotey, originally from Accra, a trader and a general merchant who sold books, musical instruments and fishing gear for a living.
With that exceptional combination of sheer industry and talent, it is not surprising that he and Mrs. Allotey bequeathed to this world a decent number of children – seven in all.
Professor Allotey was the second of the seven, four girls and three boys.
They came in this order –Martha, Francis, Elizabeth, Augustine, Agatha, Theresa and Michael. The only survivors are Agatha and Theresa both of who have traveled down from the US to be at the funeral of their brother.
A late entrant to school at the age of nine, Francis assisted his father in his store to sell his wares. Even at that tender age, Papa Allotey marveled at his son’s facility in computing the daily sales and submitting accurate daily accounts. Those were early signs of the young Allotey’s extraordinary mathematical genius.
By age 16, Francis persisted and was enrolled at the Ghana National College as the only student in Form 1 – a clear sign of tenacity and doggedness in the young Allotey.
Motivated by his ambition to gain the benefits of higher education, Francis Allotey courageously traveled alone to Liberia at the age of 19 to obtain a British Passport so that he could proceed to England. He succeeded at that too.
Back to Saltpond, he founded a co-educational secondary school which he named the Fanti Confederation Secondary Technical College, later re-named as the Fanti State Secondary Technical College.
Then onto England, Francis traveled, checking first into Borough Polytechnic before eventually ending up at the prestigious Imperial College of Science and Technology. Such was Francis Allotey’s brilliance at his subject that he was made to skip the Undergraduate degree course and was enrolled directly into the Masters degree program. This was how our African genius traveled through the corridors of higher education in Imperial College, without obtaining a first degree, a feat that I am told, has not been equaled since then in the history of that institution.
From there, take-off to Princeton University in the US was a natural and logical step for Francis. That was in 1962, after a two-year stint at the Department of Mathematics at the Kwame Nkrumah University of Science and Technology.
I am advised that Francis Allotey was the first African to study at the Mathematics Department of Princeton University, a tremendous feat accomplished at that time. It was while in Princeton studying Mathematical Physics for his Ph.D that Francis Allotey developed his universally acclaimed and world renowned Allotey Formalism theory. Through intrepid research and complicated mathematical calculations, Francis Allotey was able to prove that electrons jump into nucleus only after the nucleus has had an effect called “resonance scattering” on it.
Prof. Allotey’s first wife, Eudoris Enid of blessed memory of the parish of St. Lucy in Barbados bore him two children – Francis Jnr and Joseph. Sadly, she passed on in 1981.
He re-married in 1988 to Asie, my own classmate from the Law Faculty in Legon.
Prof Allotey embraced Asie’s two children warmly as his own. They are Cilinnie and Kay. Regrettably, Asie too passed on in 2011.
The records would show that Prof Allotey did not have the courage to make a third attempt at matrimony though the science of mathematics would seem to suggest that luck attends every third attempt at something good!
RECOGNITION FOR EXCELLENCE
Prof Allotey has been recognized for excellence across many fields and his numerous accomplishments are garnished with several firsts –
A pioneer in Computer Science education at the KNUST, first Ghanaian Full Professor in Mathematics at the KNUST, Chairman of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission on seven different occasions, a member of the UN Secretary General’s Group of 12 Experts to advise on nuclear weapons, a member of the Scientific Council of the world renowned International Centre for Theoretical Physics in Trieste, Italy, and Founder of AIMS in Ghana, among other brilliant accomplishments.
In short, Prof Allotey’s singular and sterling achievements are indeed written in gold all over the scientific world and in other areas as well. Prof Allotey both symbolized and nurtured the maturing of science, especially mathematics in Ghana. Through his enterprise and hard work, he transformed the scientific landscape of Ghana, Africa and the world for the better. His singular role in the development and promotion of mathematical sciences in Africa is exemplified in the establishment of the African Institute of Mathematical Sciences (AIMS) (with that imposing and magnificent mountain-top edifice in Biriwa, near Salptond)
His legacy to Ghana and the world through his fine mathematical mind is monumental and our individual and collective debt to him is unusually large.
In short, Prof. Allotey was the quintessential scholar who won the admiration of all. He lived and practiced his profession in several countries and in multiple jurisdictions across the world.
He was tried and tested in all, yet he traversed every jurisdiction with flying colors.
We thank God for making it possible for us to benefit so richly from the decency of his life and the scholarship of his mind.
ALLOTEY’S PHILOSOPHY OF LIFE
There were other sides to Francis Allotey beyond Mathematics and Physics.
So, let me say a word about Prof Allotey as a decent human being and a perfect gentleman.
In a world of unstable values, Prof. Allotey maintained a shining example of simplicity and modesty.
He never lost touch with the common man.
He had a sense of fair play, honesty and sympathy for the underdog, not equaled by many in public or private life.
On a very personal note, Prof Allotey never allowed his supreme knowledge of his subject discipline nor the fact that he was far senior to me to stand between us. Such was the humility of the man!
He was an exemplar. Big hearted and extremely generous, Kofi Allotey cared for and looked after many without counting the cost. As at the time of his passing, Prof Allotey had under his care and protection not less than 10 individuals that he looked after and singlehandedly supported fully. In the area of rural development, Prof Allotey assisted in the establishment of two elementary schools in Edumanfa and Owomasi in addition to funding a library in Saltpond. So long before “one district one factory”, Prof Allotey had his version of an appropriate slogan “One district, two elementary schools and one library!”
God’s beautiful treasure has been returned to Heaven.
So as we proceed to the final farewell, we can say proudly to Prof Allotey -Your life’s work has been accomplished to perfection with aplomb and excellence.
Soft spoken, easy going, never in a fight, seldom appearing to be vexed about anything, generous, and extremely kind –
Warm-hearted, humorous, charming and passionate, Prof Allotey was a giant of this land.
So that no one may accuse me of plagiarism, let me be quick to borrow an apt phrase from President Akufo Addo’s State of the Nation address delivered on the 8th of February, 2018: Prof Allotey was indeed “a national asset”.
What a stupendous life Prof Allotey led!
I am the richer for having known Kofi Ampenyin and worked with him as a colleague and friend.
We thank God for letting Kofi Ampenyin cross our paths. We thank
Him for this blessing on the African continent and the world at large
Within the constraints of human weakness, he gave of his best and in this last fond farewell we now thank God for giving us the opportunity to share in the life and times of Prof Allotey.
He is survived by his children, two boys and two girls – Francis Jnr, Joseph, Cilinnie and Kay, his two surviving sisters Mrs Agatha Narh, Mad. Theresa Allotey and twenty grandchildren.
Our deepest condolences go out to all of them and to the Allotey family of Saltpond and Accra.
Professor of Mathematics, Eminent Scholar, Nuclear and Mathematical Physicist, Fellow of the Ghana Academy of Arts and Sciences and numerous other Academies and Learned Societies.
The Manager in charge of the Radioactive Waste Management Centre (RWMC), of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC), Dr. Eric Tetteh Glover, has disclosed that his outfit is developing the expertise to handle waste generated from nuclear power.
The RWMC which falls directly under the Radiation Protection Institute of GAEC has the mandate to secure and manage all radioactive waste materials generated in Ghana in order to protect human health and the environment from the hazards associated with these materials.
The centre is the only authorized unit for safe and sustainable management of radioactive waste in the country.
Speaking to Dr. Glover in an interview, he disclosed that, there has not been a single question raised against radioactive waste management in Ghana as far as his outfit is concerned.
According to him, his centre has been very instrumental with the collection and transportation of disused radioactive sources from industries, characterization and conditioning of radioactive sources and also storage of collected radioactive waste materials.
Alluding to this fact, he was confident that the RWMC will have no challenge should Ghana’s Nuclear Power Programme come into full force. Aside having the expertise GAEC is developing the infrastructure facilities and other needed recourses to meet the demands.
“Nuclear waste unlike domestic waste, does not require much space for storage since the waste generated over a period of time is mostly small in quantity”, he said.
Responding to question on the dangers involved in transporting radioactive waste materials to its storage base, Dr. Glover revealed that, the sources are concealed in a special container that prevents emission of radiation into the atmosphere. “However it is regulated”, he added.
He urged industries and hospitals that use equipment with radioactive sources like the X-ray machine and nuclear moisture/density gauges to ensure that all cases of malfunction are immediately reported to avoid radiation exposure.
He further called on Ghanaians to maintain the trust in the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission for radiation safety.
A total of 49 members were inaugurated to serve on the Institutional Boards of the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission (GAEC) on October 25, 2017 at the SNAS conference room.
The Institutes include, the Biotechnology and Nuclear Agriculture Research Institute (BNARI), National Nuclear Research Institute (NNRI), Nuclear Power Institute (NPI), Radiation Protection Institute (RPI), Radiological and Medical Sciences Research Institute (RAMSRI), Ghana Space Science and Technology Institute (GSSTI) and the Graduate School of Nuclear and Allied Sciences (SNAS).
Speaking at the swearing-in ceremony, the Board Chair of GAEC, Dr. Kweku Anning, charged the Institute Board members to do due diligence to their responsibilities.
He advised that their role is not to frustrate the growth and progress of the Commission but to make fruitful decisions that will promote development and smooth running of the Institutes and GAEC as a whole.
Speaking on behalf of all the instructional board members, Prof. Amoasi was thankful to the GAEC Board for the appointment. He pledged the commitment of all members to ensure the progress of activities of all GAEC Institutes for sustainable development in Ghana.
Prof. Amoasi finally called for unity among the members and added that staying united will influence positive decisions.