The Jordanian economy faces a lot of challenges, the biggest one that threatens our economy is the power problem. Unlike our neighbors, here in Jordan we don’t have a lot of natural resources such as oil and natural gas, and we import more than 90% of our power which resulted in a big increase in the power prices in the last few years, imposing more and more pressure on the economy. This really slows the wheel of development in our country. Another problem that threatens the development of Jordan is the shortage in fresh water resources, knowing that Jordan is one of the world’s poorest countries in terms of water resources per inhabitant.
To solve our power problem, and to meet the growing demand on power and water, the government started to look for new options, the natural choice was the decision made in 2007 when the government announced that Jordan will enter the nuclear field and a nuclear power plant will be constructed by 2018. The first step in the program was the establishment of the nuclear engineering department at Jordan University of Science and Technology in 2007, fortunately I was accepted in this department in 2008 and now I’m in the last semester and waiting to be graduated by June 2013.
In 2008 Jordan Atomic Energy Commission (JAEC) was established to perform the studies and research related to the future power plant such as site selection and feasibility studies and Uranium ore exploration, 3 weeks ago JAEC announced the establishment of the Jordanian Uranium mining company, where previous studies performed by the former Jordanian-French Uranium Exploration Company showed high concentrations (up to 200 ppm) of uranium ore in the middle and north of Jordan, if further research in the subject reveals commercial quantities of uranium ore, Jordan might become a producer of nuclear fuel in the near future.
As part of our nuclear infrastructure, the Jordanian Subcritical Assembly JSA was built to be Jordan’s first nuclear facility, this facility will serve as a training center for nuclear engineering students. Aside from the nuclear power plant, in 2010 the JAEC started the construction of a nuclear research reactor at Jordan University of Science and Technology. The reactor is being built by a Korean company called Daewoo. It will be a 5 MWt material testing reactor (MTR). The reactor will be used for education and training of students, it also will be used to produce medical isotopes in commercial quantities and for many other applications.
Even here in Jordan we have an anti-nuclear movement, this movement favors the renewable energy choice instead of nuclear power and they got stronger especially after Fukushima accident. Finally, I want to say that Jordan took its first step in the nuclear field, I feel that our start was quite good, but again the challenge has just started.
In April 2012 I subscribed to a Canadian mailing group through a website (nuceng.ca) related to the department of engineering physics-McMaster University, where a lot of Canadian and American specialists in the nuclear field post facts and news about the developments in the nuclear technology, in May 31 I received a message from the Canadian list, the subject was “Ted Rockwell's 90th Birthday message - signature status” forwarded by Dr. Jerry Cuttler from Dr. John Shanahan. In the message Mr. Shanahan stated that he is willing to include the name of anyone interested in signing the birthday card to Dr, Ted Rockwell, so I did and sent him my name and some information about myself and he was kind enough to include my name in the signers list among many pioneers in nuclear energy. It really meant a lot to me when I saw the email that was sent to Dr. Rockwell where Mr. Shanahan referred to me (as a student from Jordan) in the email body. So that was how I heard about Mr. Shanahan and the Go Nuclear movement.
Mohammed Fathi Fadous - Go Nuclear Advocate, Irbid – Jordan