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.

Global Commons going to the birds?

South African environmentalists are a curious bunch. On the one hand, they get upset every time somebody cuts down a tree, and then demand that entire forests of European pine are cut down. Then there’s the odd bunch in Noordhoek making life miserable for Egyption Geese who they say are upsetting local birds.

Is this a case of the lunatic fringe making inroads into sober political debate? First off public forests such as Tokai and Cecilia represent a century of the commonwealth, that interesting notion invented by Cecil John Rhodes, admittedly an arch-colonialist, but nevertheless one of the first protoganists of the philosophy of liberating the masses via public works.

Destruction of global commons follows world-wide trend

YOU see it everywhere, developments that cater to the rich while excluding the poor. Whether it is the redevelopment of Cape Town’s Waterfront by a DUBAI leisure company to make way for tourists; the fencing off of a public beach in Knysna to benefit private landowners; the introduction of an elitist transport system — the so-called Gautrain in Gauteng, to serve World Cup honchos; the creation of golf courses and gated suburbs for the rich and elderly with trust funds, on the East Coast; or the exclusion of operator calls and universal service on cellphone networks to increase consumer spend; the destruction of the global commons is proceeding apace.

Laisazze Faire capitalism has created a particular logic, and with it the schizophrenia of development that caters for the wealthy while excluding the poor. Without equal opportunity, ordinary South African citizens are at the mercy of corporations and the fascism of the market. Without a welfare state, there is very little connecting the very rich and the very poor. What have South African’s in common with each other, except the insane propaganda dispensed on a daily basis, from a public broadcaster that caters solely to advertising revenues and ignores the prerogative of licence-holders who demand content that is not biased and is free of corporate-political and party-political sponsorship?