Tuesday, August 21, 2007



It is unfortunate that South Africa’s Cabinet has approved a draft nuclear energy policy and strategy.

According to government spokesperson Themba Maseko the nuclear strategy will solve a whole range of problems at a stroke - from security of energy supply to climate change, greenhouse gas emissions and the need to diversify energy sources. This is astonishing when research around the world has shown that the nuclear industry is in fact the source of innumerable grievances.

For a start, there is no "security of energy supply" since the uranium ore that nuclear reactors use will be finished long before coal reserves tail off. Research has also shown that due to emissions during the uranium mining and milling process, there is no difference between nuclear and coal on "greenhouse gas emissions" which means that the effect on climate change by the use of nuclear energy remains unchanged.

And "diversifying energy sources" should rather involve solar and wind power - truly renewable resources that South Africa has in abundance instead of a vastly expensive nuclear programme that involves a dependence on foreign bank loans, foreign science, foreign manufacture and plenty of radioactive waste that would necessitate the building of a storage tunnel in the Karoo the size of a subway.

The nuclear industry is based on "uranium beneficiation and power plan manufacturing" according to Minerals Minister Buyelwa Sonjica and both of these involve toxic pollutants that are extremely hazardous to employees and nearby communities. Uranium mining leads to radioactive contamination of water supplies and primary cancers are recognized as a work hazard of uranium miners. Uranium dust inhalation is second only to the tobacco industry for causing lung cancers.

The transport of hazardous, radioactive material across South Africa's roads, railway systems, bridges and ports means that communities all along the routes taken by nuclear fuel and waste are endangered. If there is a road accident, bridge collapse, shipwreck, derailed train, sabotage or hijacking of vehicles transporting radioactive materials, towns in South Africa would need to be prepared with extensive emergency plans. But are towns in South Africa even aware if they are on a nuclear fuel route?

It seems that the South Africa's government has decided that nuclear solves all of its problems and has chosen to ignore all of the problems that a nuclear programme creates.
Yours sincerely

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