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[GRRN] Nuclear Alert: Please read...
- Subject: [GRRN] Nuclear Alert: Please read...
- From: Muna Lakhani <email@example.com>
- Date: Fri, 02 Feb 2001 11:44:44 +0200
It is not often that I ask greenyes for help, but I feel I have no
choice - as you probably know, our electricity utility, ESKOM, is
pushing VERY hard for their new Pebble Bed Modular Reactor - although
they tell us and our government that they are exploring all options,
they are spending only approximately one-tenth of the PBMR budget on
Regardless of their public claims, we have just heard that their PBMR
sales team has just left the country, to try and generate support /
sales in advance of the Environmental Impact Assessment being completed,
which has just begun (full of "greenwash", misleading information, and
downright intimidation of activists).
What can you do?
1)Send me your details as supporting our campaign
2) get your organisation to support our campaign (organisational support
is given a higher value here)
3) write / e-mail the consultants (details at the end) and register as
an interested and affected party, and state your opposition.
do please copy me on whatever you do...
your kindness in this matter is greatly appreciated - I look forwrad to
Volunteer activist - Earthlife Africa
Nuclear Energy Costs the Earth !
A brief overview of objections to the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor
Eskom is spending public money – over R120 million since 1993– to
develop a new generation of nuclear power plants to generate electricity
for South Africa and, they hope, to sell to other countries. EARTHLIFE
AFRICA, calls upon government to move away from the policies of the
apartheid government and to withdraw all support, direct and indirect,
for this project.
We don’t need nuclear power:
South Africa will not need more electricity generation capacity for at
least ten years. Our present capacity is nearly 40 000 MW (megawatts)
while the highest peak demand to date was 29 146MW;
Efficient energy use and demand side management could reduce current
electricity demand by 20 to 30% or more, giving SA far more time to
develop additional or replacement generation capacity;
Nuclear power is dirty and dangerous:
The nuclear industry, both in energy and weapons, is damaging to human
health and the environment; it is not in line with a national policy of
sustainable development, nor with constitutional rights. Radioactivity,
which is the basis of nuclear power, can be immediately fatal in large
doses and in smaller amounts is known to cause cancers, particularly
leukaemia, genetic damage and weakening of the immune system.
The whole nuclear fuel chain involves pollution: uranium mining leaves
huge volumes of radioactive tailings that are just dumped, not even
handled as hazardous waste; uranium processing and enrichment and fuel
production produce toxic as well as radioactive wastes; there is no
policy or accepted method, world-wide, for the disposal of spent fuel
which remains very dangerous for tens of thousands of years.
PBMR’s put workers’ health at risk at every stage of the fuel chain and
workers are routinely exposed to very small doses of radioactivity even
though there is extensive evidence that the is no such thing as a ‘safe
dose’. Public health is put at risk by operating nuclear reactors,
transport of radioactive materials and waste storage.
There are better options:
Arguments in favour of PBMR are backward-looking: proponents try to make
their project look attractive by comparing it to the dirty energy of
fossil fuels (oil and coal);
Wind Power projects create ten times more jobs than in nuclear and the
leading developers of wind farms are willing and ready to undertake
technology-transfer projects that will allow South Africa to develop the
COSATU, South Africa’s largest Labour movement, has taken the following
resolution (which was proposed by the National Union of Mineworkers)
1. To re-affirm the OAU stance that Africa should remain a nuclear free
2. The nuclear expansion programme through the PBMR project be stopped
with immediate effect.
3. Resources targeted to PBMR are redirected to alternative energy
technologies like hydro, biomass, solar, wind etc.
4. The current nuclear waste from Koeberg Power Station be stored in a
safe and sufficient protected area and not be sold to other poorer
countries in the continent.
5. Department of Minerals and Energy be forced to take overall
accountability for unacceptable radiation levels within both the mining
and energy sectors.”
The clean energy of wind and sunlight is freely available and these
renewable energy resources are much greater in South Africa than all our
energy needs. Most of SA’s wind resources are coastal, thus reducing
dependence on highveld coal stations and long distance transmission;
Wind farms produce no air pollution (smoke) and most (95 to 99%) of the
land can also be used for farming; also, the wind power market, for
example, is growing at over 25% per year.
Rural electricity generation from wind and solar (sun) energy, for
self-sufficient households or for small grid systems, empowers local
communities and helps to counter urbanisation;
PBMR is gambling with terrible odds
South Africa is gambling millions on the promises of an industry with a
history of broken promises and dishonesty, from massive cost over-runs
and long delays in delivery, to covering up accidents and impacts.
The promises of the PBMR programme are founded on a number of
assumptions that are not supported by international developments, the
most critical being that foreign orders for large numbers of these
reactors will be signed and honoured. (In the USA all orders  have
been cancelled since 1974.)
Eskom’s projected costs of plant production and electricity generation
are lower than anything ever achieved in this field. International
experts, sympathetic to the nuclear industry, estimate costs to be
almost double Eskom’s figures.
The total cost of setting up the first reactor, a “reference module”, is
anticipated, by the proponents, to be in excess of R 1 300 million (this
includes producing fuel for the reactor).
Eskom & the PBMR programme are not transparent or accountable:
The process of determining how the public money entrusted to Eskom is
used is secretive; it is not reported and is not guided by national
policy. Financial reporting is not integrated and does not allow an
overview of spending, particularly with regard to research and
Eskom have made every effort to secure political support for a PBMR
before government has the necessary information. Any decision on support
for the programme should be based on the findings of the Integrated
Energy Planning process (initiated but under-resourced).
For over 20 years the nuclear industry enjoyed the benefits of heavy
subsidies, e.g. receiving between 85 and 90% of DME budget between 1985
and 1989. This has advanced nuclear power at the expense of cleaner and
more socially beneficial technology. It is time to move away from the
practices of the apartheid era and to give effect to policies and
legislation promulgated since 1994.
PBMR’s prevent inter-generational equity, a constitutional right:
Decommissioning (dealing with the power plant at the end of its life) is
extremely expensive: generally at least half the original cost of the
plant, in some cases far more than the original cost. Future generations
will be burdened with the costs and risks of dealing with the plants
when they go off line and devising some way of storing wastes – the
proposal to store spent fuel from the PBMR within the reactor building
for forty years only defers the problem.
PBMR’s could be bad for business and trade:
As governments and consumers, particularly in developed (rich northern)
countries, become sensitive to the hidden costs and environmental
implications of energy use, and as international mechanisms are
developed to support clean and sustainable development, there are
increasing opportunities for financial and technological support of
developing countries in Southern Africa. In future there will be
competitive advantages for products made using renewable energy, while
products involving high levels of energy input from polluting sources
will be rejected or penalised by special energy taxes already being
If fuel is produced in SA for export we may well be forced by
international agreements to take it back once it is spent i.e. toxic and
highly radioactive wastes, dangerous for tens of thousands of years.
Speak out NOW against this foolish development!
Register as an interested and affected party (I&AP) in the Environmental
Impact Assessment processes for the construction of the first reactor
and the fuel production process. It is important that everyone who is
concerned or interested in energy issues register; numbers count. You
will receive documentation to which you can respond if you want to,
stating your opposition.
Attention: Sybert Liebenberg or Brian Magongoa
P.O. Box 1350, Hatfield, Pretoria, 0028
Fax: 012-362-2463 Tel: 012-362-2908
(More “Nuclear Energy Costs the Earth” Campaign information available
from Richard Worthington of Earthlife Africa Johannesburg on 011-4773726
or e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.earthlife.org.za)
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