South Africa responds to Japan nuclear crisis

As the nuclear crisis unfolds in Japan, Democracy Now! reports from South Africa on the government’s plan to triple the country’s nuclear fleet in order to meet rising energy demand. South Africa has the only industrial nuclear reactor on the continent— the Koeberg nuclear power station near Cape Town — but there are plans to build six more industry reactors.

Democracy Now spoke with South African nuclear expert David Fig, who says, “We need to really assess as a country whether we want to go down the nuclear road for further energy purposes.” We also speak to Makoma Lekalakala of Earthlife Africa, who says that the country’s significant potential for solar and wind energy should be developed

Meanwhile Earthlife Africa has released a statement about the meltdown and have called for a protest:  Earthlife Africa Anti-Nuclear Protest DATE: 17 March 2011 TIME: 11h00 – 13h00 VENUE: Eskom Regional Office, Smit Street, Braamfontein, Jozi

Tristen Taylor, Project Coordinator at Earthlife Africa Jhb, states, “Earthlife Africa Jhb calls upon the South African Government to abandon its commitment to nuclear power. The Government can do so now, before it signs contracts for the purchases of new nuclear reactors, and make investments in clean and secure renewable energy. A non-nuclear, low carbon future is possible and, most importantly, it is safe. There is no need to run the risks made so tragically clear by the current and evolving situation in Japan.”

The events in Japan could signal an end to South Africa’s own nuclear ambitions. Fukashima explosion may shake SA Nuclear reports IOL.

‎”The Fukushima crisis now rates as a more serious accident than the partial meltdown at Three Mile Island in the US in 1979, and is second only to the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, according to the French nuclear safety authority.”

The SA Rescue Team finally got going this week, after delays caused by conflicting statements from the presidency and red-tape. “The team has 40 people, including urban search and rescue specialists, canine rescue specialists, logistics experts and four medical doctors,” spokesperson Peter Pullen said in a statement. Reports are here.

Japan’s ambassador to South Africa, Toshiro Owaza, on Tuesday expressed his “heartfelt gratitude to the government and people of South Africa … for the sympathy and empathy expressed through your countless telephone calls, e-mails and letters to our embassy.”

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