I am in Upsala, Sweden, as a guest of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC). It has nearly 200 000 paying members, a full-time staff of about 90, and produces a magazine every two months for its members. It has been an interesting first day in Stockholm, with a lot to take in.
Sweden generates about half of its electricity from nuclear power, and, like all countries with nuclear power, the country is wrestling with the issue of what to do with the spent nuclear fuel, or in technical terms, the high level waste. This remains dangerously radioactive for thousands of years, and disposing of it safely is a huge engineering challenge. Continue reading
An independent in depth report on the Fukushima nuclear disaster commissioned by the Japanese parliament was released in July 2012, and it comes to some very important conclusions. As Eskom attempts to get approval to build three more nuclear plants along the southern coast, South Africa should be looking very closely at this report to see if there are lessons we should learn from it.
The earthquake or the tsunami?
The tsunami swamping the sea barrier at Fukushima
The nuclear industry has repeatedly made the claim Continue reading
First published in Business Day, 23 July 2012
The nuclear power industry is deeply troubled, with little cause for optimism. There is growing worldwide public resistance to nuclear power stations, President Obama has terminated government subsidies in the USA for nuclear power, and Germany and Switzerland have committed to shutting down all their reactors. While the renewable energy industry has seen dramatic growth and constantly falling costs, the nuclear industry grapples with spiralling costs, the seemingly intractable waste disposal issue, and the ongoing huge economic and human costs of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
It is not unusual for those who favour nuclear power to downplay the effects of nuclear disasters that have happened. In the article “Nuclear power is a key part of SA’s future”, attributed to the South African Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters, I came across this example: ‘The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to Fukushima at the end of May 2011 concluded that “to date no confirmed long-term health effects to any person have been reported as a result of radiation exposure from the nuclear accident”‘. Continue reading
At COP17 in Durban, there has been strong input from civil society that nuclear power is not the answer for South Africa.
Faith groups have long held the view that nuclear power is ethically indefensible, Continue reading
The Heinrich Boell Foundation arranged a set of presentations and panel discussion on the theme of ‘Beyond coal and nuclear’. The three highly distinguished presenters were Kimiko Hirata of the Japanese organisation Kiko network which has its goal the prevention of dangerous climate change; Arne Jungjohann of the Washington office of the Heinrich Boell Foundation (HBF); and Michaele Schreyer, member of the supervisory board of HBF. Continue reading
As for any large project, the proposed building of a new nuclear power plant in South Africa required an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process to be completed by independent experts. This results in an Environmental Impact Report (EIR) which must be presented to the public via a public participation process.
During some of these presentations, Peter Becker, of the Koeberg Alert Alliance videoed the proceedings. Continue reading