the radioactive reality...

Submitted by JimmySprout on Thu, 2011-11-17 16:42

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We are generally kept in the dark when it comes to the dangers of nuclear power and radioactive materials.

Japan had a scary awakening after the earthquake and subsequent tsunamis wrecked the No. 1 nuclear reactor at Fukushima. Since then the ‘no-entry zone’ totals roughly 1 100 square kilometres while caesium contamination zones are now estimated at over 8 000 square kilometres.

Cape Town has a nuclear reactor - Koeberg, and it sits slap bang in the middle of the west coast. Yet Koeberg has no evacuation strategy should a nuclear disaster occur, and their emergency response plan only deals with a radius of 16km around the site. This is slightly concerning considering the Cape Peninsula is exactly that – a peninsula. What’s even more concerning is that those evacuated from Fukushima were from a radius of 20km around the site!

Not only are emergency response plans seriously under-prepared, but the scale of possible disaster is also underestimated. The Cape Town city centre is only 28 kilometres from the current Koeberg site and despite this being almost 10 kilometres over the ‘outer reaches’ of an evacuation area, developments along the west coast over the past decade have been enormous.

Oddly enough, the South African Government wants to build another 2 nuclear power reactors on the Koeberg site, and has another 4 planned for various other locations around the country’s coast. I don’t know if it’s just me, but this makes me feel a little uneasy. We have plenty of renewable energy possibilities in South Africa and it seems very short-sighted that we would choose a ‘quick-fix’, risky and expensive approach to solving our energy problems.

Not only are there the obvious (health) risks associated with nuclear power, but the nuclear power waste that is building up and being kept all over the world currently has nowhere to go (Koeberg has over 1 000 tons of high level waste because there are no plans to deal with it). Even worse in my mind is that the Government thinks it’s a good idea to position another 2 reactors on the Koeberg site. In the event of a nuclear meltdown of one of the reactors, have they not thought about the knock-on effect to the others? Sound risky to me.

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