Oct 08, 2010
Concerns about a nuclear-powered South AfricaBack
© Reuse this
Cane comprises community organisations, residents asso- ciations, nongovernmental organisations, academics, professionals, unionists, environmentalists and ordinary citizens, most of whom are concerned about the “unnecessary and heavily subsidised costs, nuclear safety and the unresolved problem of long-term spent fuel storage”.
Cane’s Christine Garbett says: “A mix of renewable energy and pumped storage is equal to nuclear in supplying the country’s baseload energy, but has the advantage of about seven times more sustainable jobs and all the advantages of a low-carbon economy.”
Member of the Cane organisation the Pelindaba Working Group spokesperson Dominique Gilbert says that alternative energy sources, like concentrating solar power, are still expensive, compared with government’s current estimates for the construction of nuclear power plants, but it has failed to include the cost of aspects such as State subsidies, the disposal of nuclear waste, insurance liability, and externalities that include health risk and worker compensation, into the overall expense of generating nuclear power.
Gilbert explains that she believes that there is increasing proof of nuclear energy being economically unviable and having health implications. “The solution to South Africa’s energy crisis is decentralised power, where regions are able to establish their own renew- able-energy plants that are suitable to their terrain and conditions. This will not only create local jobs, but will also allow excess power to be fed into the grid.”
Nongovernmental environmental organisation Greenpeace points out that uranium mining is a highly intensive process, as uranium must be mined, milled, converted, enriched, converted again and then manufactured into fuel.
Nonprofit environmental organisation Earthlife Africa’s Judith Taylor explains that employees of uranium mines are also putting their health at risk, as they are exposed to radiation.
A 1999 report by Mail & Guardian says that an inspection carried out by the Council for Nuclear Safety (CNS) in May to August 1998 showed that more than 1 000 mine workers in the Free State were exposed to a yearly radiation dose five times higher than permissible.
In 1994, the CNS reported that 9 600 gold-mine workers were exposed to radioactive dust and gas clouds in the workplace that ranged between 20 millisievert (mSv) and 50 mSv each year.
However, the World Nuclear Association says: “The safety record of the uranium-mining industry is good. Radiation dose records compiled by mining companies under the scrutiny of regulatory authorities have shown consistently that mining company employees are not exposed to radiation doses in excess of the limits. The maximum dose received by mine- workers is about half of the 20-mSv/y limit and the average is about one-tenth of it.”
When a nuclear power station is ope- rational, it emits relatively little carbon dioxide. However, Gilbert believes that the nuclear industry fails to mention the carcinogens, such as caesium, strontium, and tritium, which are emitted by nuclear plants.
“The nuclear industry in South Africa is unsure about how long it will have to manage nuclear waste. We have already had leaks at South Africa’s main nuclear research centre Pelindaba, near the Hartbeespoort dam, in Gauteng, and at Africa’s only nuclear power station, Koeberg, 30 km north of Cape Town,” adds Gilbert.
Meanwhile, a News24 report on September 20, stated that 91 Eskom workers were contaminated with a small amount of radiation while performing maintenance work at Koeberg.
Eskom spokesperson Karen de Villiers said that, during maintenance on Koeberg Unit One, 91 workers tested positive for cobalt 58 as they left the site on September 12. It is believed that they were contaminated by airborne radiation, possibly from dust particles.
Gilbert explains that epidemiological studies have yet to be implemented to determine the effect of nuclear plants on surrounding populations.
Edited by: Brindaveni Naidoo© Reuse this
To subscribe email email@example.com or click here
To advertise email firstname.lastname@example.org or click here
Other Nuclear Energy News
In the newly published Thorium Energy Report (ThoriumEnergyReport.org) India reported that it has initiated studies on a conceptual design of the Indian Molten Salt Breeder Reactor (IMBSR)
Updated 56 minutes ago Mining needs to be reinvented as a mutually transformative win-win for countries and companies to put an end to the resource curse, which has destroyed the collective creativity of resource-rich economies, causing them to fall behind their resource-poor counterparts,...
Updated 2 hours 30 minutes ago The Gupta family and the Economic Freedom Fighters (EFF) are expected to face off North Gauteng High court on Tuesday. The family, via their company Oakbay Investments, is understood to have filed an urgent application on behalf of their shareholders, businesses and...
Updated 2 hours 50 minutes ago The Roads Agency Limpopo's CEO has been dismissed and two of his colleagues suspended for alleged fraud, corruption, and collusion involving more than R40-million, the agency said on Monday. The trio allegedly flouted supply chain management policies, colluded,...
Recent Research Reports
Construction 2016: A review of South Africa's construction industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2016 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; key participants; local demand; geographic diversification; corporate activity; black economic...
Energy Roundup – February 2016 (PDF Report)
The February 2016 roundup covers activities across South Africa for December 2015 and January 2016 and includes details of a Government Gazette notice that confirms Cabinet’s decision to move ahead with the 9 600 MW nuclear procurement programme; State-owned power...
Energy Roundup - December 2015 (PDF Report)
The December 2015 roundup includes details of State-owned utility Eskom’s application to claw back R22.8-billion; South Africa’s ranking as an investment destination for renewable energy; and a nuclear expert’s thoughts on reactor designs for South Africa’s nuclear...
Water 2015: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2015 Report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context but also in the African and global context in terms of supply and demand, water stress and insecurity, and access to water and sanitation, besides others.
Input Sector Review: Pumps 2015 (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2015 Input Sector Review on Pumps provides an overview of South Africa’s pumps industry with particular focus on pump manufacture and supply, aftermarket services, marketing strategies, local and export demand, imports, sector support, investment...
Liquid Fuels 2015: A review of South Africa's liquid fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2015 Report examines these issues in the context of South Africa’s business environment; oil and gas exploration; fuel pricing; the development of the country’s biofuels industry; the logistics of transporting liquid fuels; and...
This Week's Magazine
Power and automation company ABB is in the launch phase of its highest payload, multipurpose industrial robot, the IRB 8700. The robot has a reach of 3.5 m and can handle a payload of up to 800 kg. “When designing the IRB 8700, we emphasised reach and payload, as...
Identity and Access Management (IAM) is a critical facet of a connected security ecosystem, as controlling the confidentiality, integrity and authorisation of data access and use is key to securing new digital business channels. However, companies face several...
Data underpins digital business models, the digital economy, the Internet of Things and the fundamental changes in the ways people interact and protecting data is crucial to securing new ways of doing business, says T-Systems South Africa information and...
The City of Cape Town will issue a tender for the procurement of electric buses for its MyCiTi service, in line with the council’s commitment to lower its carbon footprint, says executive mayor Patricia de Lille. The tender, to be advertised early in February, will...
The iSimangaliso Wetland Park Authority signed a R10-million contract last month with local tailings storage facility specialists Cyclone Engineering Projects to remove about 100 000 m3 of dredge spoil obstructing the natural course of the uMfolozi river, in...