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Chinese to start work on nuclear plant in Kenya

Indian Ocean, Lake Turkana and Lake Victoria among the possible locations

China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to choose Kenya's ideal location for a nuclear power plant

Kenya's dream of generating nuclear energy is getting closer after a Chinese firm was given a contract to conduct research and settle on a location for a nuclear plant, from a choice of either the Indian Ocean or lakes Turkana and Victoria.

The Nuclear Power and Energy Agency (NuPEA) inked a Sh50 million deal with China National Nuclear Corporation (CNNC) to settle on the best location between the three options.

The two year study is the first step in actualizing a plan to build a 1,000 megawatt (MW) capacity nuclear power plant by 2027.

The plant is expected to be built at a cost of Sh1.5 billion and has received some skepticism from government officials in the Ministry of Energy who insist nuclear energy should only be used as a last resort.

The development has come just a few days after ODM Leader Raila Odinga championed calls to have nuclear energy during the funeral of lawyer Karanja Kabage - who was also an expert on the matter.

Odinga also spoke of the hostility his call for nuclear energy had faced when, as the Minister of Energy, he proposed the project - many Kenyans labeling him a bomb-maker.

Nuclear plants, despite their benefits of low-cost and reliable energy, require high level safety standards and a simple mistake could result in a generational disaster.

In 1986, an accident at the Chernobyl Power Plant in Ukraine led to at least 31 direct deaths.

The United Nations estimated that by 2006, at least 4000 people had indirectly died from effects of the radiation exposure in Chernobyl and the neighboring towns.

The city of Pripyat where the plant was built, has since been abandoned to become a ghost city, and a wall built to control radiation.

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