Monday, August 20, 2007



Ref: Letter from Mr Rossouw about Alcan and nuclear.

Mr Rossouw seems to believe that comment on nuclear reactors is restricted to scientists only. This is interesting, since scientists were the ones in the 1950s and 60s who thought it was a good idea to conduct live nuclear weapons shows at their defence base in Las Vegas USA. All you had to do was put on your dark glasses and sit in one of the rows to watch the show. What fireworks! Everyone got cancer - and the US after paying out $2 billion dollars in compensation to victims is still paying for these scientists' great idea. I wonder what the housewives of Las Vegas thought about that one?

In their research titled: "Nuclear power - the energy balance" by Jan Willem Storm van Leeuwen and Philip Smith, the point is made that "beyond the energy cliff the nuclear system cannot generate net useful energy and will produce more carbon dioxide (CO2) than a gas-fired station".

Van Leeuwen and Smith also state that: "Discussions on nuclear power often are troubled by two implicite but persistent misconceptions: Ultimately every
uranium atom in the ground or sea could be recovered without or with a negligible energy input and every uranium atom extracted from the ground or sea could be fissioned. Both assumptions are false and easy to refute by applying basic physical laws, as is shown in this study".
Koeberg is a bad example for Mr Rossouw to have chosen as his ideal nuclear reactor - if he had done some research. Firstly in terms of security, a group of Greenpeace protesters showed how easy it was to break into the facility and hang up their flag. If they had been terrorists, Cape Town might not exist now.

Carte Blanche also did a lengthy documentary programme about an engineer at Koeberg who discovered there was a fault in the reactor and informed Necsa. Did they investigate? No, the man was fired. And so he explained his story to the media, that revealed on the part of Necsa more cover-ups and deceptions and no effort to deal with a problem that in Belgium would have led to the reactor being shut down altogether until the fault was corrected.

You are so right, Mr Rossouw, Koeberg does "give us a fair idea of the real risks involved with having a nuclear power station nearby". According to a report by News24, Koeberg's emergency planning in the result of an accident is abysmal and individuals in the area would do well to prepare their own emergency contingency plans.

Mr Rossouw says "Koeberg is currently Eskom‘s cheapest source of power into its network". Excuse me? Cheapest? Does this factor in the costs of its construction,
uranium fuel, decommissioning and waste disposal. Oh and of course medical reparation to those injured on duty. But perhaps this is not included in Necsa's financial planning, since workers claiming compensation from Necsa are dying while they wait for reddress.

Some electricity information for Mr Rossouw is that: "Less than 16% of the world electricity is generated by nuclear power stations, so the total share of nuclear power is about 2.5% of the world energy generation, slightly less than that of hydropower. Even if the world electricity generation would be all nuclear, it would provide only 16% of the world energy demand".

If an industry like Alcan pollutes - and history has shown that it has - municipalities may slap on a fine, but the damage has been done, the people are sick from the pollutants into air, water and soil. Sometimes money just does not make you well again.

And how on earth is it valuable to measure toxic emissions from one industry - and say that is well and safe - when residents of Port Elizabeth are breathing in a ****tail of emissions from existing industries all around them. Unfortunately you cannot choose the air you breathe, unless you are Michael Jackson with a gas mask. This being the case it is crucial that PE residents should know the combined toxicity of emissions from industries around the area that will have a combined effect on the population.

And how ironic that Mr Rossouw refers to a "political agenda". I wonder why that is? He does not think that PE residents have a right to be concerned about the kind of environment they live in? Protesters against the Alcan smelter and Coega development come from all walks of life, but they are commonly concerned about the area in which they live being poisoned by pollutants.

There are a couple of questions the Coega development have yet to answer - that have been "under discussion" for years. These include the kind of specific, facts that Mr Rossouw enjoys - perhaps he can answer them:

*Where is Alcan going to find the vast amounts of fresh water required for the smelter without seriously affecting Port Elizabeth and the surrounding areas, since they depend on a catchment that is barely sufficient when there are good rains - without Alcan taking the lion's share

*How does Alcan propose to deal with hazardous waste such as the spent pot linings? And where will the rest of the waste be dumped?
Or are these issues yet to be decided, while construction forges ahead? Perhaps PE residents will know when they turn on their taps and no water comes out. But of course for many of the poorer residents - taps are an unknown luxury - they use water from the nearest river. Whoops! Would those be rivers where pollutants are pumped? Think about walking around in those shoes for a while - it may not be fun, or healthy, but it would certainly be educational.

Yours sincerely


1 comment:

Max-e said...

I agree with you. I've been silent for too long and with the spectre of nuclear power stations on our door step it is time to take a stand. Problem is how to drum up support