SOUTH AFRICAN apartheid energy throwback, Eskom has announced its latest scheme to “find other uses for the PBMR”. Hawking white elephants around the globe in a time of economic crisis might seem like a bad joke if it weren’t for the seriousness of nuclear proliferation in an age of cross-border war, the high probability of an accident resulting in contamination, emissions and radiation and the high chance that human error will compound problems related to economic greed.
Unlike conventional nuclear plants, the PBMR is a technology that does not have any safety features other than the strange and untested claim that the nuclear pebbles are better for you, (in fact so better for you that they may even beat organic lettuce and tofu in a head-to-head competition for palatability, reliability and sustain-wattability, see below) For instance there is no containment building in the actual design, “perhaps to make the design economically feasible” proposes, Anthony Frogget a researcher at Heinrich Boll Stiftung. Surely Eskom is asking a bit much from the public to continue bankrolling a couple of atomic pebbles whose safety is in question, spending money that according to Richard Worthington, could be better spent on solar power?
I therefore offer you some uses for the mothballed PBMR you might not have thought of:
- Ultra-expensive paper-weight on the next President’s pebble-desk.
- Hot-water heater for HIV-free showers and extra-marital sex parlours.
- Julius Malema would look good next to the PBMR
- PBMR makes wonderful neighbour, great for bringing down property prices.
- If you had a PBMR in your backyard, you probably are not losing any sleep over the cellphone radiation issue and don’t mind microwaves from nearby relay masts. So let’s just up the dose even further and wait until the cost of x-rays come down.
- Police decoy on the Cape Flats, if the toxic waste gets stolen we won’t have to worry about it.
- PBMR makes for a brighter future for the SABC board who won’t have to worry about their hairdos since they will all be bald, and glow in the dark.
- The Proudly South Africa campaign can now be renamed Proud to have a Rare form of Cancer thanks to the PBMR campaign!
- If the Springbok rugby team had a PBMR they wouldn’t have to worry about not scoring because the other team wouldn’t bother to show up, ditto for our Olympic athletes.
- We could send the PBMR to Zimbabwe where it would deflect attention away from Robert Mugabe and inflation by keeping a starving, yet happy population busy figuring out the half-life of radiation and the value of Strontium 90.
- The Day After and China Syndrome, are two super-scary flieks about nuclear contamination but if we put the PBMR in the Karoo, we could sell tickets to the next End of the World movie, along with scary disfigured mutant rodents and wild Proteas that really eat people.
- Not to worry, Eskom says PBMR waste could be sent to the Middle of the Sun, using a R50 billion space rocket that will cost R300 trillion rand to launch.
- The People’s Republic of Blakvakistan wants one so that they can threaten the free world with atomic cigars and glow-in-the-dark missiles after the price of oil collapses.
- We could send the PBMR to the Middle East where it would bring about world peace by killing everyone there who isn’t dead already. Ban Ki-Moon included.
- Finally, PBMR is better than owning a PVR and watching Charlize Theron and Sevende Laan and provides hours of entertainment for the whole family. If you buy one from Eskom, we’ll throw in a complimentary set of steak knives, rubber gloves and a decontamination suit.
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.
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.
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.
WOULD YOU TRUST A NUCLEAR ENGINEER TO LOOK AFTER YOUR CHILDREN?
WOULD YOU LET HOMER SIMPSON RUN THE DEPARTMENT OF ENERGY?
FORWARD TO A NON-RACIST, NON-SEXIST, NUCLEAR-FREE CONTINENT
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’.
[EXRACTED FROM THE NAMIBIAN]
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.
EXRACTED FROM THE NAMIBIAN
On April 29, 2005. Navajo Nation President Joe Shirley, Jr., signed what is believed to be the first Native American tribal law banning uranium mining and milling. With dozens of community members and dignitaries looking on, Shirley signed the DinÃ© Natural Resources Protection Act (DNRPA) of 2005, which was passed by the Navajo Nation Council by a vote of 63-19 on April 19. As amended by the Council during floor debate, the act states, “No person shall engage in uranium mining and processing on any sites within Navajo Indian Country.” The law is based on the Fundamental Laws of the DinÃ©, which are already codified in Navajo statutes. The act finds that based on those fundamental laws, “certain substances in the Earth (doo nal yee dah) that are harmful to the people should not be disturbed, and that the people now know that uranium is one such substance, and therefore, that its extraction should be avoided as traditional practice and prohibited by Navajo law.”
In the late 1970s, Navajo uranium miners and their families asked for help to show that their lung diseases had been caused by their work in underground uranium mines in the 1940s-1960s. SRIC staff responded with medical and scientific data, in-community education strategies, and legislative support. As a result, Congress adopted legislation in 1990 to compensate former miners and their survivors. Ten years later, with SRIC’s on going technical support to advocacy groups, the law was amended to cover virtually all uranium miners who worked before 1971.
Despite making great strides in protecting miners’ and community health, compensating former miners and their families, and cleaning up uranium mill sites, significant problems stemming from the legacy of uranium development still exist today in the Four Corners Area. Hundreds of abandoned mines have not been cleaned up and present environmental and health risks in many Navajo communities. Health conditions in those communities have never been studied despite being impacted by uranium development that dates back to the late-40s and early-50s.
Some of these same communities are now confronted with proposed new uranium solution mining that threatens the only source of drinking water for 10,000 to 15,000 people living in the Eastern Navajo Agency in northwestern New Mexico. Since 1994, SRIC has worked with those communities and the community-based group, Eastern Navajo Dinï¿½ Against Uranium Mining (ENDAUM-CCT), to stop the proposed mines through community education, interaction with Navajo Nation leaders, and a seven-year-long legal challenge of the mines’ federal license.
The work of SRIC, ENDAUM-CCT and their law firms – the New Mexico Environmental Law Center (NMELC) and the Harmon-Curran firm in Washington, D.C. – has erected major roadblocks to the proposed mining, but has not yet terminated the license. Citizen opposition to mining is widespread, and the Navajo Nation leadership recently determined that uranium solution mining is unsafe and that the proposed mines are too risky to the health and environment of the Navajo people.
Against this background, working with Navajo groups and communities to stop new mining and continuing to assess and document the health and environmental effects of past uranium development are the principal focuses of UIAP work.
DESPITE PRECEDENTS SUCH AS THE ABOVE, DISPOSSESSED SOUTHERN AFRICAN NATIONS ARE FORCED TO ALLOW MINING OF URANIUM ON TRIBAL GROUNDS COLONISED BY WHITES AND OWNED BY MULTINATIONAL COMPANIES WORKING IN TANDEM WITH GOVERNMENT AGENCIES.
FIRST, our own finance minister, gets his facts all wrong by spending R500 000 000 on radioactive toasters and nuclear kettles –the so-called Mini-Koeberg “Pebble-beds”. Then Erwin, contradicts his own finance minister and announces a further R500 000 000 or so to be spent on a “second” Koeberg, that’s right, lets push South Africa to the brink of nuclear empowered disaster.
Where do our politicians get the time to push dirty Nuclear Energy that is not only expensive, but a major source of pollution and background radiation to boot. Don’t we know that radiation from the nuclear chain is bad for us, and the Uranium Mining industry is worse than the Asbestos Industry? Remember Asbestos “perfectly safe for you and that’s a guaranteed promise with no money back
from Alec Erwin, Trevor Manual and the South African government.”
Why not simple spend the money on world trip to push nuclear powered outboard motors for the next big spend grand prix?
The anti-nuclear lobbey is one of the longest running environmental campaigns in South Africa. In fact, alongside Nan Rice’s Dolphin Action Group, Mike Kantey’s Koeberg Alert, it predates the formation of Earthlife Africa
Despite the Koeberg Alert’s concerns about the so-called “peaceful use of nuclear energy”, and the fact that South Africa’s own nuclear bomb industry was finally exposed to be a giant fraud. (De Klerk and his National Party only came clean after 1994). South Africa and our own Erwin & Manual, continues to espouse the doctrine of nuclear power for peaceful ends. An oxymoron of a ministry if ever there was one.
Unfortunately, the debate around Koeberg has swung from mass rallies against nuclear energy, to self-satisfied and smug debates of the bourgoisie vs labour;the pros and cons of nuclear safety and of course, the energy issue. The public is confused, politicians are hamstrung, tongue-tied, and bound up by Patricia De Lille and Helen Zille and just nobody knows what to think as the 25 year old debate about renewable resources vs peaceful nuclear energy which continues to give partriarchy a hard-on, and male cabinent members a re-usable condom.
Enough is enough. Let’s top debating the issue. Lets stop haggling over renewable minutia and strategic advances on the quantum-micro-macro economic level. Let’s stop buying into the lies about Koeberg and Koeberg 2 and focus our efforts instead on demonstrating that the nuclear industry is exactly what it says it is, “As safe as the Asbestos Industry”.
Getting rid of dirty Asbestos-siding is one of the green movement’s few success stories — local industrialists once claimed “asbestos was good for everything,” just like nuclear energy. And of course, “blacks asbestos miners don’t need environmental awareness or green leftists to save them from cancer”.
Asbestos the Uranium of the Sixties was forced to close down and pay reperations for health loss and damage to lungs to countless workers, by the actions of Koeberg Altert, ELA, EJF and the Cape Town Ecology Group
And with nothing to gain, except notoriety for effecting change in society, change that lead to transformation and sustainable development.
Get the message straight;keep it simple: We don’t want safe nukes, or peaceful nukes, what we demand is no nukes whatsoever.
Close down Koeberg, Stop the Refueling Shipments, and Forward to a Nuclear-Free, Non-Racist, Non-Sexist African Continent.