Africa News Service
Potential Nuclear Nightmare
Story Filed: Tuesday, July 10, 2001 2:20 PM EST

Johannesburg, Jul 10, 2001 (Earthlife Africa/All Africa Global Media via COMTEX)-- South Africans would be right in being horrified at proposals for Pelindaba, 2 km from the Cradle of Humankind.

Not only does the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) wish to build and operate a nuclear fuel manufacturing plant, with an intended capacity over 40 years of over 200 MILLION kg of radioactive fuel; they also plan to build, operate and "commercialise" a radioactive waste smelter, to smelt local and other waste, which will spew over 5 kg of radioactive material into the air every year; now it appears that Pelindaba may become a site for Eskom's proposed Pebble Bed Modular Reactor - a new, untested version of a nuclear reactor that has been abandoned everywhere else it has been tried, including the USA and Germany.

The Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism appears content to slip this newly proposed site into an existing Environmental Impact Assessment process, designed to consider developing such a plant at the Koeberg site. Having failed to persuade the people or authorities in the Western Cape that an additional nuclear power plant is desirable or even acceptable, Eskom hopes for more success with their speculative sales pitch in the North West Province. Armed with their unsubstantiated job creation figures and a lot of very wishful projections of possible revenue (irresponsibly cited without context in some newspapers), Eskom is relying on authorities in North West Province to be more credulous than elsewhere.

"The potential radiation hazards, singly and cumulatively, are unacceptable for people living within at least a 20 km radius and for The Cradle of Humankind World Heritage Site and Hartebeestpoort Dam tourist attractions," says Earthlife Africa's Nuclear Energy Costs the Earth Campaign Co-ordinator, Muna Lakhani. "Even as a volunteer organisation, with limited resources, we have more than sufficient research at hand to show that the notion of a "safe dose" of radiation is a complete fiction."

"The International Atomic Energy Agency, a pro-nuclear body, has expressed concerns about the safety of the PBMR in the international publication, Nucleonics Weekly. The economic figures originally quoted by Eskom have already proved to be way off the mark; anticipated costs are climbing steadily and a rigorous economic assessment that was promised for early this year has not been released. An additional concern is the historically high cost of decommissioning nuclear plants and the long term costs of waste management, for which there is no accepted or licensed disposal facility anywhere in the world."

Earthlife Africa are on record as requesting access to the 'Detailed Feasibility Study' that is supposed to inform a cabinet decision on whether the PBMR project should be taken forward, to allow for independent expert analysis.

People wishing more information are welcome to contact Muna Lakhani on 082- 416-9160 or

Issued by: "Nuclear Energy Costs the Earth" Steering Committee, Earthlife Africa - Johannesburg Nuclear Energy Costs the Earth Campaign. Cell: 082-416- 9160. E-mail:

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KEYWORD: South Africa

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