Articles

“Spent nuclear fuel is a ‘ticking time bomb’”
Limerick, Pennsylvania Nuclear Plant’s report on high level waste.

The Nuclear Industry claims that nuclear energy is clean and safe. Despite the spin put out by the multi-billion dollar nuclear industry, nuclear energy is not clean and it is not safe. It’s pushed as carbon emission free, and in terms of the service period, it is, but at what price? The main concerns are:

BACK END WASTE:

Spent (used) nuclear rods must be specially stored to avoid leaks and theft. In America, waste is an ongoing hot potato. Nobody knows what to do with it.
And what about illegal dumping? Most likely, you won’t even hear about that.

ONGOING RADIATION

Every time nuclear particles are released (e.g. bomb testing, accidental leaks) the environment becomes just a bit more toxic.

Worldwide the nuclear regulatory bodies determine what they call “Annual Authorised Discharge Quantities “, or AADQs. These are ROUTINE releases of radiotoxic and carcinogenic isotopes, such as Strontium-90 and Cesium-137, which are measured in Bequerels per annum. One Bequerel is one disintegration of one atom a second, so the more disintegrations in a second, the higher the Bequerels. This is the ticking sound you would hear in a Geiger counter. It really doesn’t help to measure them over one year (per annum) because you need to know when a particularly nasty dose is released.

What’s more, AADQ find their way through food chains to humans. The worst are Strontium 90 and Cesium 137 which are absorbed into fruit, wheat and milk. (France discharges 100 million gallons of nuclear waste per annum into the English channel. 12 of 15 West European countries have asked them to stop but they won’t. (See Makhijani debate)

PROLIFIERATION:

One reactor generates enough plutonium to make 40 bombs per year. This alone should make us very concerned, given Mankind’s record for destruction. Letting the world’s governments continue to play games with our planet is like Russian roulette. Many will argue that producing electricity is different from making weapons. But many more will argue differently. President Obama, 2010, said: "The greatest threat to U.S. and global security is no longer a nuclear exchange between nations, but nuclear terrorism by violent extremists and nuclear proliferation to an increasing number of states."

MELTDOWN:

In the event of a nuclear meltdown at Thyspunt, prevailing winds would carry radionuclides to Port Elizabeth in four hours. As discussed above, the nuclear industry claims that the risk of meltdown is 1 per million per annum. Funny, the Japanese nuclear regulator used exact same number back in 2003. The world has witnessed 3 major nuclear disasters so far: 3 Mile Island, Pennsylvania, USA on March 28, 1979; Chernobyl, Ukraine on 26 April 1986 (also here & here) and Fukishima, Japan on 11 March 2011. (But there have been more.) That’s an average of 1 every 43 years. The meltdown at 3 Mile Island was contained but gave America enough of a fright that NOT ONE new plant has been licenced in the thirty years since. Many pro-nuclear lobbyists point to TMI as a success as the containment was not breached but they completely ignore the financial meltdown – which taxpayer wants to invest in a massively expensive electricity plant that can self-destruct in this fashion evaporating billions of Rands of investment?

Now, Fukushima is consolidating the world’s public even more against continuing on the nuclear energy track (also here). The real issue is everything’s fine until it’s not. See here for maps showing radiation leak into sea, moving past Hawaii and hitting West Coast of America. If you can imagine leaving your home right now and never coming back, then you can imagine a future living in a nuclear reactor’s backyard.

Given the obvious risks and the global trend away from nuclear power generation, WHY is Eskom determined to pursue their intention to build a Nuclear 1 Power Plant at Thyspunt, a mere 85km from Port Elizabeth?