Activist! Debate & Poll : "Should SA Spend on Nuclear or Renewable Energy?"

Uranium Pebbles May Light the Way

To developers, the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor design promises to deliver an "African Renaissance" -- a rebirth of nuclear energy. The PBMR is safer, cleaner, smaller and more affordable than conventional nuclear power plants, says Tom Ferreira, spokesman for the PBMR consortium. In fact, proponents insist that the reactor's design features make it "meltdown-proof" and "walk-away safe."

Source : Wired Magazine >>

Only 50 People Died at Chernobyl

The UN's International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and World Health Organisation say that only 50 deaths can be directly attributed to the disaster, and that, at most, 4,000 people may eventually die from the accident on April 26 1986.

Source : International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA)

Reactors in SA can Provide Drinking Water

"We can use our nuclear reactors to desalinate & provide water!"

Source : Andrew Kenny

The Only Way to Avoid Climate Catastrophe

Sir David King, the Government's chief scientist, was far-sighted to say that global warming is a more serious threat than terrorism. He may even have underestimated, because, since he spoke, new evidence of climate change suggests it could be even more serious, and the greatest danger that civilisation has faced so far ...

Source : James Lovelock

Major Discovery Primed to Unleash Solar Revolution

In a revolutionary leap that could transform solar power from alternative energy into a mainstream energy source, MIT researchers have overcome a major barrier to large-scale solar power: storing energy for use when the sun doesn't shine.

Source : Urban Sprout >>

More Nuclear Not Needed

It is argued that there are alternative energy sources available to meet the country’s energy needs (the National Electricity Regulator states that electricity needs for the next 25 years can be met without new nuclear power).


Nuke Plants Aging Disgracefully

Last February, Ohio's Davis-Besse nuclear power plant shut down after workers discovered that boric acid had eaten away at 70 pounds of steel, leaving a 6-by-5-inch hole in its reactor head. Only a thin, 3/8-inch strip of stainless steel lining protected the reactor from rupturing and causing what could have been the most devastating nuclear accident since Three Mile Island.

Source : Wired Magazine

The TORCH Report

The TORCH 2006 report "estimated that more than half the iodine-131 from Chernobyl [which increases the risk of thyroid cancer] was deposited outside the former Soviet Union. Possible increases in thyroid cancer have been reported in the Czech Republic and the UK, but more research is needed to evaluate thyroid cancer incidences in Western Europe". It predicted about 30,000 to 60,000 excess cancer deaths and warned that predictions of excess cancer deaths strongly depend on the risk factor used; and predicted excess cases of thyroid cancer range between 18,000 and 66,000 in Belarus alone depending on the risk projection model

Source : The Greens Free Alliance

Caution: Flammable

Is the reactor safe? Perhaps, but "safety" is never absolute. Unexpected things seem to happen if you run enough reactors long enough, and "improvements" may trade one hazard for another. Take the graphite that pebble-bed reactors use instead of water to slow neutrons. Graphite adds mass, slowing heat-up in an emergency and giving operators more time to respond.

But graphite burns, and water doesn't. As University of Wisconsin-Madison nuclear engineer Michael Corradini observes, "Nothing is totally foolproof. You're trading the problem with air oxidation to the problem of overheating with water." (Remember: air is the emergency coolant if the helium disappears.)

Source : WHY Files

Distributed Generation : Wind & Solar Power are More Egalitarian

Distributed generation reduces the amount of energy lost in transmitting electricity because the electricity is generated very near where it is used, perhaps even in the same building. This also reduces the size and number of power lines that must be constructed.

Source : Wikipedia

Unions & Government Set to Clash over Nuke Plans 

The powerful National Union of Mineworkers is on a collision course with the government over the latter’s plans to invest R400billion into nuclear energy by 2025. A document marked “Strictly Confidential”, authored by the South Africa Power Project and Eskom, says that the government will invest R24billion in the research and development of pebble bed modular reactors (PBMRs).

The unions and civil society are calling for government to instead invest in clean, renewable forms of energy such as solar power, wind power and wave technology. The government, on the other hand, believes that nuclear energy is the route to go. Ngcobo believes that nuclear energy is a safe and reliable “part of a future energy mix”. He says in Sweden “cities are now competing to host nuclear waste”. But Num and Earthlife Africa disputes this. “No country has an approved procedure for dealing with highly radioactive material waste that remains deadly for hundreds of thousands of years,” says Earthlife Africa’s Makoma Lekalakala.

Source : The Sowetan 5th August 2008