nuclear development – a toxic topic

Submitted by ConsciousBabe on Mon, 2011-12-05 08:23

Toxic waste hangs around for thousands of yearsToxic waste hangs around for thousands of years

The Koeberg Alert Alliance organisation goes back as far as 1983, but was reformed by Peter Becker in 2010. A determined man, he spends much of his time sharing the important news of what nuclear means to the people of Cape Town, trying to cut through the smokescreen that is governmental brainwashing and monopoly-driven propaganda.

For Peter, it all started with a poster. Before his anti-nuclear days Mr Becker was into wind power and one day while giving a talk at a school he couldn’t help but notice the crude misinformation on one of the posters on the wall about energy. With a couple of degrees up his sleeve Peter quickly saw through the subtle manipulation tactics scrawled across that school poster, seriously downplaying the potential dangers of Nuclear Energy. He was so disgusted that he went on to investigate the distributors of the poster, and this was only the beginning of what would become an all-consuming personal campaign to educate local Cape Townians about the nuclear situation: the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the (sometimes mind-boggling) truth.

The offending school poster claims the only disadvantages of nuclear energy is 'negative public perception'The offending school poster claims the only disadvantages of nuclear energy is 'negative public perception'

I first got involved in the local nuclear saga beginning of 2010, when plans to build more nuclear power plants in the Western Cape triggered a series of public meetings centred around the EIA’s (environmental impact assessments) of said reactors. I arrived as a curious journalist, neutral despite my radical environmentalist upbringing, well aware that the stereotypical peace symbol of the ‘hippies’ was but a tweaked version of the nuclear symbol.

Trying to keep my wits about me, I watched open-mouthed as heavy verbals went back and fourth until, a couple of hours in, knee-high in jargon soup, I had a lightbulb moment: this here issue is far more complex than I had at first assumed. I felt like Julia Roberts in that movie where she uncovered the terrible water company scandal. In these crude capitalist times, it is often the common citizen armed with nothing but a sense of righteousness against those corporate monsters with more skeletons in their closet than Eminem.

Your classic case of David vs Goliath, I watched as middle-class mothers, fathers and uncles waged debate against the slickest, most expensive PR. As harmless and cuddly as Eskom’s good old rep’s made nuclear poison sound, I soon caught on to the fact that perhaps Nuclear was one of South Africa’s biggest scandals – one that involved both high risk to locals and big bucks to politicians pockets.

Greenpeace hung an anti-nuclear protest banner from Koeberg power plant, 2002Greenpeace hung an anti-nuclear protest banner from Koeberg power plant, 2002

Do YOU know what to do in case of a nuclear accident? Shortly after the horrific case of Fukushima, I believe we should all take it upon ourselves as citizens of a country to keep a close check on the energy situation, bearing in mind the potential dangers to our families and friends. A scary statistic is that if an accident was to happen at the Koeberg - and the wind was blowing in the 'wrong' direction - Cape Town would be completely radioactive within 2 hours! An immediate evacuation would be imperative with the Mother City remaining toxic and uninhabitable for hundreds of years to come.

The 3 proposed sites for more Nuclear Power reactors in the Western cape are at present Hermanus, Jeffreys Bay or Cape Town. The saga continues, however, as money flounders and areas resist.

Recently Peter Becker requested a copy of Eskom’s Koeberg Emergency Response Plan, which they refused him after much delay on the grounds of ‘protection of safety of individuals, and the protection of property’ (all which can apparently be found under section 38).
Peter has since been on various radio stations discussing these pressing issues and the Green Expo a couple of weekends ago saw the Koeberg Alert Alliance representing their cause, backed by huge bright yellow replica drums bearing the symbol of toxic radioactive waste.

Locally-produced film ‘There Are No Heroes’ and documentary ‘Buried in Earthskin’ both make an artistic point of the huge potential risks of nuclear development in the Western Cape.

Zapiro pokes fun at Eskom's refusal to release their Emergency PlanZapiro pokes fun at Eskom's refusal to release their Emergency Plan

In my own experience, most people are misinformed in the following ways:
a) there is nothing wrong with nuclear and
b) there are no feasible alternative

The only reason there have been so many empty promises around and very little money spent on renewable technolgies is simply a matter of politics and control. Solar or wind power would be no more expensive or create any less energy or jobs– in fact a 100MW wind farm can be built and running within 3 years for less than R2 billion, as opposed to the proposed new nuclear power plant, which would cost tax-payers R1 trillion. And the fact that many seem to overlook is that radiation IS incredibly harmful to humans.

If you are still not sure which side of the fence you are sitting on I suggest you visit the Koeberg Alert Alliance site where Peter has archived more than enough information to state a strong case against nuclear development in South Africa. But if you, like me, are already convinced that having tons of toxic radioactive waste hanging around for thousands of years is not actually such a great idea, please sign KAA’s petition against nuclear