SA’s costly nuke plant a national suicide – NUM

2014-06-19 10:38

Government and the ANC should reconsider plans to forge ahead with expanding nuclear energy, the National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) has said.

The NUM’s national executive committee (NEC) met yesterday to discuss President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address.

On Tuesday, Zuma signalled that South Africa would push ahead with nuclear energy generation.

The NEC acknowledged that nuclear energy could contribute more than 9 000 megawatts to the national grid with benefits for business and human needs.

But it believed the risks outweighed the benefits.

“... Fukushima nuclear disaster is a godly reminder about the inherent dangers to the environment and the human race,” the NEC said.

Hundreds of thousands of Japanese people were negatively and permanently affected by the Fukushima nuclear disaster in March 2011.

NUM general secretary Frans Baleni also pointed to the Ukrainian Chernobyl accident of April 26 1986. It was the world’s worst nuclear disaster, the most costly and resulted in the most deaths.

The NUM estimated it would cost R1 trillion to build a new South African nuclear plant.

“Thus, nuclear [is] an expensive investment to national suicide,” Baleni said.

On March 11 2011, the Fukushima I nuclear power plant suffered a catastrophic failure after it was hit by a tsunami following a strong earthquake.

The effects of the Chernobyl disaster are expected to contaminate the surrounding area for thousands of years to come.

Chernobyl’s reactor has been enclosed in a huge concrete sarcophagus, but the sarcophagus is nearing the end of its 30-year life span.

Construction of a second containment structure to encase the sarcophagus is expected to be finished in 2016.

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