Friday, February 8, 2008

Small independent film upsets the powerful nuclear industry

Earthlife Africa Cape Town

Tel/Fax: 27 21 447 4912


7 February 2008

Press Release: Small independent film upsets the powerful nuclear industry

The South African nuclear industry has lodged a complaint with the Broadcasting Complaints Commission (BCC) over the screening on M-Net’s Carte Blanche of a documentary about the country’s nuclear industry.

Earthlife Africa is extremely concerned that this is an attempt by the powerful nuclear lobby to silence any dissenting voices.

A hearing date has been set for February 20 at the BCC’s offices in Johannesburg. The hearing is open to the public.

Entitled Uranium Road the documentary is about the history of the nuclear industry in South Africa as well as the present status of nuclear power in the country. It was screened on Carte Blanche, M-Net’s current affairs programme, in early November 2007. It sparked debate and clearly upset the powerful nuclear industry lobby. The Broadcasting Complaints Commission has received a complaint from NIASA (Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa).

“For many years now, the government of South Africa has been running headlong into a nuclear future despite the dangers and high costs of this technology and the availability of better alternatives. It is perhaps time for energy policy in South Africa to be decided upon, not by the Cabinet, but by its citizens. For this to be possible, the public needs to be informed. Clearly the nuclear industry cannot afford for an informed public to involve itself in energy choices because then the many myths and legends of nuclear power would be exposed”, said Earthlife Africa Cape Town spokesperson Maya Aberman

Earthlife Africa is staunchly against the roll-out of nuclear power and welcomes any debate that broadens the awareness about the impact of nuclear power on our environment. “We’ve spent millions of rands on researching nuclear power in the last decade but it has not been fully discussed with South African citizens.” Most South Africans are still unaware of the impact of nuclear power. The industry itself is constantly marketing ideas that nuclear power is a clean, safe and is even a renewable energy source. Nothing could be further from the truth if one considers:

· its contribution to climate change: the complete nuclear fuel chain is extremely energy intensive and dirty. The nuclear fuel cycle releases CO2 during mining, fuel production, transport, plant construction and decommissioning

· the poor economic track record of nuclear projects worldwide and in South Africa

· the fact that we are fast approaching uranium (nuclear fuel) peak

· the dangers posed by even low doses of radiation to human and environmental health

· the risk of catastrophic accident

· the fact that nuclear waste remains active and a threat to animal and human health for millions of years to come.

In addition, renewable energy can create about 27 times as many jobs as nuclear energy and jobs in the renewable energy generation sectors, like wind power, already have local people making up about 60% of their work force, and is increasing.

There are viable, safer and cleaner alternatives to nuclear power. There are sufficient renewable energy resources in South Africa to provide for 13% of the electricity demand by 2020, and easily 70% or more by 2050.

The film raises some of these concerns and has helped educate many South Africans who have little or no information about nuclear or renewable energy sources.

These developments beg the question; “Is the nuclear industry so vulnerable to open and informed debate that it finds it necessary to shut down any dissenting voices?”

For more information contact:

Maya Aberman

Earthlife Africa Cape Town

Tel: 021 447 4912

Cell: 076 754 6327

Tristen Taylor

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg

Tel: 011 339 3662

Cell: 084 250 2434

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