Category: Nuclear Power

USS Roosevelt violates South Africa’s “peaceful nukes” claim

USS Theodore Roosevelt

THE level of hypocrisy shown by South African authorities has reached a new high with permission granted by the National Nuclear Regulator for the entry of USS Roosevelt – a nuclear powered and nuclear-armed aircraft carrier — to enter Table Bay. Is it any wonder that the public no longer take official promises of openness and transparency seriously? Can we trust government bureaucrats to look after our best interests? What we have here is an example of covert government and an attempt to launch an all-out propoganda war. Newsradio station Good Hope FM merrily announced that Roosevelt was in the region on a peace mission to “protect free trade and the environment”. What a load of bollocks. Then there are the officials who forget they were touting the “peaceful use of nuclear energy” barely six months ago, only to welcome a war-ship that has seen action in the Middle East, with open arms, excuse the pun.

I spoke out on Bush Radio and Radio786 drive-time (this morning), against the heavy-handed action meted out by security guards employed by the Waterfront. That’s right – our right to peacefully assemble is yet again being violated as we speak. After a short demonstration OUTSIDE the waterfront on Saturday, a group of about 9 protestors were the victim of intimidation and threats made by Waterfront security but refused to leave. Eventually the group was told to disperse by the members of the SAPS who threatened members of the public with arrest if they did not obey a direct order. And they call this a democracy?

This incident is clearly a flagrant violation of rights enshrined in the constitution, and both the Coaltion Against Nuclear Energy (CANE) and Earthlife Africa intend lodging a complaint with the mayors office. More later. BTW Video footage of the incident was shown on SABC as well as eTV, but I only got to see the SABC snippet. Where are all the citizen journalists in this episode? Whatever happened to the so-called blogosphere? Your absence has been noted.

Patrick Moore not the co-founder of Greenpeace

THE man who claims to be one of the “cofounders” of Greenpeace is at the centre of a storm surrounding allegations that he falsified his membership and was merely an early member of the organisation.

Although the Greenpeace International web site used to include Moore in their list of founders, the organisation has distanced itself from Moore and his promotion of nuclear power, logging and the use of fur, all positions which have lead members to question his credentials. “There is some controversy over whether Moore was a co-founder, or merely an early member, of Greenpeace,” said Maya Aberman of Earthlife Africa.

Moores claim has been disputed by other founders including Bob Hunter (deceased), Dorothy Stowe, Dorothy Metcalf, and Jim and Marie Bolen, and is at odds with his original Greenpeace membership application. If anyone deserves credit, it was Bob Hunter, who is generally accorded the status of being “founder” but such one-upmanship was not his style.

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Nuclear-bidder linked to apartheid government

AREVA, the French nuclear conglomorate, formerly known as Framatome, maintained close ties with the apartheid government and was responsible for the construction of Koeberg, a plant that continues to pump out toxic emissions that exceed European safety guidelines. South African Safety limits, in fact, had to be raised to accommodate the emissions of radioactive isotopes such as strontium-90 and ceasium-137, and defects in the design were thus erased with the stroke of a pen by the National Nuclear Regulator. 

With a majority stake held by the French government, and with close links to Westinghouse, the other bidder, the company will be showcasing its technology, along with trade mission headed by conservative French President Nicolas Sarkozy in South Africa later this year.

Areva-Framatome’s growth, according to Multinational Monitor, is rooted in the Cold War and the history of France’s Commissariat a l’Energie Atomique (CEA), a government agency set up by DeGaulle in 1945 in order to direct French nuclear research and develop an independent French nuclear weapons capability. Framatome’s licensing relationship with the U.S.’s Westinghouse Corporation apparently played a central role in France’s strategy of gaining access to U.S. reactor technology and integrating it with the centerpiece of France’s self-reliant nuclear program, the fast breeder reactor.

In 1975, Framatome negotiated the first major sale of a French-made nuclear reactor – to the Iranian government under the Shah. The $1.2 billion contract for two 900 megawatt power stations reportedly included supplying fuel reprocessing technology. However, the units were never built and the contract was eventually cancelled in 1979 following the Shah’s overthrow.

Barely five months later, Framatome won a contract to build South Africa’s first nuclear power reactors at Koeberg, edging out Westinghouse. Under terms of the seven-year contract, Framatome and two other French companies agreed to provide the nuclear technology, equipment, and fuel rods for two 950 megawatt units. ESKOM supplied the enriched uranium for the rods and funded construction. Financing came directly from the South African government and indirectly from transnational bank purchases of ESKOM bonds.

Areva’s projects have been marked by hefty cost-overuns and inexplicable delays. The company is busy constructing Finland‘s fifth reactor in Olkiluoto, since 2005. The reactor, which is one of the first of the new, third generation reactors (EPR – European Pressurized Reactor), was supposed to begin producing electricity in 2009, but the project has been delayed because of technical difficulties and quality problems. In August, 2007 the production start was postponed to 2010-2011 and the new plant is expected to cost over 3 billion euros.

In December 1982, the start-up of Koeberg was delayed when the reactor’s control system was damaged by bombs planted by MK.  Despite growing resistance to nuclear power, the ANC-NNP alliance recently announced an expanded nuclear programme, in part due to pressure from the Global Nuclear Energy Partnership (GNEP) a nefarious organisation made-up of nuclear interests which include Washington Group International and the World Nuclear Association.

The French government has been accused of ditry tricks and skullduggery in its efforts to silence its critics. On July 10 1985, French agents blew-up the Greenpeace flagship, Rainbow Warrior whist docked in the Port of Auckland, New Zealand, in retaliation against the group’s campaign against nuclear testing on Muruaua.

An entry in Wikipedia tells it this way: One of the twelve people on board, photographer Fernando Pereira, returned to the ship after the first explosion to attempt to retrieve his equipment, and was killed when the ship was sunk by a second larger explosion.The New Zealand Police immediately initiated a murder inquiry into the sinking. With the assistance of the New Zealand public and an intense media focus the police quickly established the movements of all of the bombers. On July 12 two of the six bombers, posing as Swiss tourists and carrying Swiss passports, who had operated under orders were found and arrested.

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SA Nuclear bidder fined for rigging markets in EU

In January 2007 Areva was fined €53 million by the European Commission for rigging EU electricity markets through a cartel involving 11 companies, among which ABB, Alstom, Fuji, Hitachi Japan, AE Power Systems, Mitsubishi Electric Corp, Schneider, Siemens, Toshiba and VA Tech. According to the Commission, “between 1988 and 2004, the companies rigged bids for procurement contracts, fixed prices, allocated projects to each other, shared markets and exchanged commercially important and confidential information.” Siemens was given a fine of €396 million, more than half of the total, for its alleged leadership role in the cartel.

Despite EU Competition Commissioner Neelie Kroes optimism, he declared after the judgement: “The commission has put an end to a cartel which has cheated public utility companies and consumers for more than 16 years”. The group now wants to create another electricity cartel operation in conjunction with South Africa’s much-maligned Eskom.

According to the Multinational Monitor, the company formerly known as Frametone has a troubled history. On February 18, 1982, French farmers forced police and nuclear workers to flee the test drilling site of a proposed nuclear plant in Carnet in western France. They used a novel antinuclear weapon: bees.

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NUCLEAR POWER — is it too late to get off the bus? An exit strategy for the radioactive bandwagon could involve natural gas!

SOUTH AFRICA’s energy crisis is not going to be solved by putting PBMR’s in every bus and mini-taxi. A nuclear toaster and radioactive oven, is not the solution to our nations’s woes. Since there is no such thing as a safe dose, our government must undertake to reduce harmful emissions and conduct an audit to assess the culmalitive affect of radiation exposure at its facilities at Pelendaba and Koeberg. As far as we know, Radiation kills and Uranium could turn out to be the asbestos of the 21st century.

Without a commitment from government, workers will be forced to carry the brunt of the PBMR min-koeberg policy. This without a proper environmental impact assessment that takes into account the long term consequences of nuclear power. The Strontium and Ceasium emissions from Koeberg alone are enough to make one glow in the dark.

An exit strategy from the insane (and costly) PBMR project embarked upon by our Ministers of Public Enterprises, (a leftover from the apartheid-era government and military) is needed. One camp amongst economists is pushing for Natural Gas as the solution. Concievably, natural gas is a lot cleaner than coal, and could change the way we power vehicles as well as generate electricity. Another favours hydrogen.

Unlike most bunny-hugging eco-feminists who favour soft options such as wind, solar and hydro, I propose hard options such as kinetic wave “energy from the ocean” — plenty of coastline and as most surfers can tell you, waves are powerful!. Next up, geothermal energy from the earths core — plenty of hot rocks at Goudini and we have the technology to drill up to 2km down. Then, natural gas and natural gas to hydrogen, which will revolutionise transport and domestic electricity production. Yes to hydrogen fuel cells, (old skylab technology) and of course sky-tethers that form a plasma and use the earth’s own rotational pull to milk kinetic energy. But I wouldn’t want to leave out large solar arrays that focus the sun’s energy to boil gas which then drives generators, especially in the Karoo where it’s hot all day.

Is there an exit strategy for Min. Erwin? Can he step back from the brink of nuclear meltdown (a near miss last December). Will we see natural gas overtake the PBMR as South Africa’s preferred energy source? Without an energy master plan that takes into account public and private transport, domestic and commercial electricity provision, the needs of the people, there can only be friction between cabinet and the movement-at-large. Perhaps someone will work out a way to harness the energy spent at mass demonstrations, and put our toyi toyi to good use?


KOEBERG: No safe dose of radiation

THERE simply is no safe dose of radiation and the nuclear industry is lying to us, that’s the gist of the argument made by various members of Koeberg Alert, including myself. As the Navajo Nation have said: The Nuclear Industry is bad medicine. No doubt, locals will learn that radiation is bad muti and that no safe dose exists, despite what some nuclear engineers and physicists, John Walmsely included, would like us to believe.

Take something as sane and simple as x-rays.Would you subject your child to the equivelent of one x-ray per day? Would you give yourself a brain-scan every weekend? Would you put your head in a microwave oven? The bullshit that we take for science today is alarming to say the least. Add lots of money, some push-and-pull of big bloated government and you have a recipe for an African Chernobyl, as South Africans start to electrocute themselves with radioactive kettles and we get no further in the debate about renewables.

Once again, top of the list of a safe, renewable, energy supply, is Kinetic Wave Energy from the Sea. Next up, Hydrogen Fuel Cells, that breakdown H and O2 into harmless water. Third, simply because it represents a vast ocean of untapped energy is the earths on geothermal potential, waiting to be tapped by the mining and drilling sectors. All one needs to do is pump a conductive gas down into the earth, until it heats up sufficiently, expands, and shoots up, driving either a turbine or some other system of energy exchange.

Shell have launched a solar energy programme, and BP is looking beyond petroleum, and yet ESKOM can’t get off the military arms dealer’s lists of whose-who in the mindless atomic bomb trade. While Manual spends sleepless nights cooking up the next budget, that will give arms dealers billions of tax-payers money, people starve and Alec Erwin plays around with a PBMR white elephant that refuses to die. Come-on, boys give us something better than cheap lies about asbestos siding and mercury in our water supply being good for us — or why not drink some toxic waste or eat some lead cadmium to prove how safe this stuff really is.




NUKES: Environmentalists call foul over Namibian Uranium Mine

CONCERNS continue to mount over the opening of the Langer Heinrich Uranium Mine in the Namib-Naukluft Park despite Government insisting that ‘all is well’.


The World Information Service on Energy (Wise), one of the world’s largest networks of groups working on nuclear energy issues, is the latest organisation to express opposition to the opening of the mine.

In a statement, Wise said uranium mining creates radioactive dust and emission of poisonous gas.

The emissions, it said, put residents at a greater risk of developing cancer.

“Wise, one of the largest networks of groups working on nuclear energy issues, strongly opposes the opening of the Langer Heinrich Uranium mine in Namibia.

Mining uranium and mineral sands creates radioactive dust and radon gas,”said Peer de Rijk, Executive Director of Wise.

“When breathed into the lungs, the dust and gas release their radiation at close range where it does the most damage to the lining of the lung and increases the risk of developing cancer.”

Further, noted the pressure group, the radiation exposure could affect men and women’s reproductive health.

Studies by the United States Department of Occupational Safety and Health revealed that low doses of radiation, spread over a number of years, could be just as dangerous as acute exposure.

In short, there are no safe levels of radiation exposure.

In Namibia, the National Society for Human Rights (NSHR) has said that the mining operations would seriously affect the biodiversity of the Swakopmund environs.

The ecosystem, it said, was set to be contaminated.

But Government insists that the criticisms do not hold water.

According to Joseph Iita, Permanent Secretary of Mines and Energy, those with dissenting voices were not saying much tangible.

He said all procedures were followed properly and everything was in order.

Iita said an environmental impact assessment study was carried out before s licence was granted.

Concerns over the environment, he added, were adequately addressed.

“In line with constitutional mandates, all procedures pertaining to the environment were properly followed.

An environmental impact assessment study was carried out prior to issuing the licence.

Nothing is so peculiar to uranium mining in Namibia.

“It’s not the first time either.”

While Government expressed satisfaction with the progress so far, the NSHR said the granting of the licence was “as good as licensing death”.

Dorkas Phillemon, a public relations and administration officer at the NSHR, said research on uranium mining at a global level had shown that no single mine to date had done very well.

Phillemon said it was improper to sacrifice people’s health for the sake of investment and employment.

“Such kind of investment is not proper,” said the human rights activist.

Rijk added that the health risk of uranium mining was not confined to workers alone.

Waste leaks into surrounding areas, especially rivers and underground water supplies, could pollute water sources.

The Wise executive director said: “The radioactive wastes left over from mining are a major hazard because they are easily dispersed through wind, rain and human error.

“Waste leaks into surrounding areas, especially rivers and underground water supplies, affect people’s skin, clothing and vehicles can be contaminated by being near radioactive material.”

The German Oeko Institute and Earthlife Namibia have also raised concerns about the granting of the licence.

They raised technical issues related to the way in which the environmental study was undertaken, insisting that notable issues were left blowing in the wind.

The Oeko Research Institute said the assessment done by the Australian company Paladin Resources Limited was not carried out properly, as it did not clearly define the area where the doses were below the dose limits and where the limits were exceeded.

Earthlife Chairperson Bertchen Kohrs said one of the most serious shortcomings of Paladin’s assessment was that no realistic view of the hazardous effects on workers at the mining site was presented because no estimate had been made of the collective dose for the proposed operations.

The Oeko Institute said it had established that the Australian mining company had underestimated the concentrations for radium and radon by a factor of four.