Break-in at nuke facility 'covered up'

2012-07-13 08:40

Cape Town - A break-in at the Pelindaba nuclear facility has again raised questions about safety at the country’s biggest nuclear research centre.

Die Burger reported that the incident happened on 28 April when an attempt was made to break into the facility - which stores about 600kg (enough to build about 20 nuclear bombs) of weapons-grade uranium.

National Nuclear Regulator spokesperson Gino Moonsamy described the incident as “very small” and said no one had come even close to the uranium.

He said security measures at Pelindaba consisted of several layers that were regularly upgraded.

“There is no reason for the public to be worried.”

But DA MP Lance Greyling said it was the third time in seven years that someone had tried to break into Pelindaba.

“What is more worrying is that the latest incident was kept quiet for so long.”

Greyling said he would ask for an investigation to be held.

  • renofinch - 2012-07-13 08:44

    Given the calibre of our thieves I'm sure the uranium was more a threat to the thieves than the thieves were to it...

      Squeegee - 2012-07-13 09:24

      When guys like this say "don't worry", I get very worried. 600kg of weapons grade Uranium is a huge temptation to foreign governments and terrorists and for our own cleptocracy.

      gieljam.gomtor - 2012-07-13 09:48

      When incompetent people are in charge this will happen..

      martin.britchford.5 - 2012-07-13 13:04

      pelindaba is one of the easiest places in the world to get near, you can flippin hike right up to the perimeter fence, im pretty sure they have sensors to pick up a breach, but still, its pathetic, isnt this the second time we know of in pelindaba history? it should be crawling with whatever kinda special forces we have in sa now days, all the nuke stations too, the anc is letting brother terrorists right into nuke facilities, they need to go, the current government is now a threat to international security.

  • Joe - 2012-07-13 08:45

    Most criminals in this country are too stupid to know what weapon grade Uranium is, they will chose Copper wires before taking the Uranium.

  • michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 08:46

    no no no let them come close to the Uranium, let them pick it up.... see if they can make it to the front door! hahaha

      hugo.mabasa - 2012-07-13 12:08

      uranium has a very long half life ,so they will definately make it to the door.

      michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 13:36

      haha Hugo.... no man.... no.... let me draw you a picture, pick up say 1kg of spent Uranium fuel from the facility, just carry it around with you for 1 hour and let me know when you stop vomiting! lol

      Hugo - 2012-07-13 14:00

      where does it say the uranium is spent?do you know what spent fuel is?

      michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 14:07

      Oh Hugo I must say, for a teenager you sure are wise in the world, on no wait.. you are not... If you would like me to draw you another picture with colours this time please let me know? Spent fuel would be a nuclear fuel that is no longer useful in a facility. It is still HIGHLY radioactive dumbo, you ever seen those big bright crystal clear blue pools with rods in them, you guessed it and win a prize today, that is depleted fuel rods! Now for all your wisdom and depleted IQ, pick one of those up, or even better, pick up a rod that is NOT depleted... Let me know when you stop vomiting! Flip I swear, what are you even studying in Cape Town?? You need to read more in life.

  • phillys.winterbottom - 2012-07-13 08:49

    “There is no reason for the public to be worried.” Remember the ANC government have everything under control!!! The suspected thieves are easily noticeable: they should by now be glowing brightly, and have an after-life of about 100 years........

      Bless Boswell - 2012-07-13 09:09

      Yep, and south Africa is safe too!

      Matthew Patrick - 2012-07-13 09:17

      Ha ha, funny! And it's 'half-life' ;-)

      hugo.mabasa - 2012-07-13 12:28

      so uranium can die and have an afterlife,boy isn't that awesome! if on the other hand you meant half life, it is not 100 years but about 9 billion years(if i am not mistaken). moving to the next issue:58 people 'liked' your comment of 'uranium afterlife'.Judging by the 'demographic composition' of this site I cant help but lament the after effects of bantu education but can I?

      michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 14:14

      Hugo you are wrong again, Uranium-235 is mainly used in nuclear reactors and has a half-life of around 700 million years. Ohh and your Bantu education comments are pathetic, Apartheid ended almost 20 years ago, if you cannot afford education now it is free. I went to a private school in the 1980's and had many black kids at school with me, so get off your Bantu ANC wagon. We all know what the person meant, demeaning a person for making a mistake shows your lack of disipline and low intellect.

  • bennie.kruger.5 - 2012-07-13 08:49

    Again this proves the only thing they cant bugger up is 2cm of train track!!

      gregory.jurgens - 2012-07-13 09:22

      Dude there are some pretty f**ked up train tracks in SA.

  • AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-13 08:49

    Any nuclear facility, anywhere in the world, is NOT safe. Close them all down !! ( like Germany is planning to do )

      wesley.bischoff - 2012-07-13 09:10

      The old facilities yes. All new nuclear power stations are built with new technology and are extremely safe. Of course a natural disaster could cause a meltdown and contamination, but that is very rare, and even Fukushima handled it well. If they are so DANGEROUS TO OUR LIVES, please explain why there have only been two meltdowns which caused contamination to thousands of people and the environment. TWO

      paul.rainierpope - 2012-07-13 09:12

      Is this based on the NIMBY approach, regardless of all the Cancer treatments that are produced at this facility. Have you looked at the cost of energy generation from present systems as compared with Nuclear? The extensive damage to flying creatures through wind turbines is still under investigation. And the cost of manufacturing all the components in value and enviromental impact needs further quantification. Energy and medical from nuclear faces attack based on ignorance and attitude.

      Harry - 2012-07-13 09:19

      Rather close you down, because idiots like you are the biggest threat to our quality of life on earth. By the way, without this facility we cannot perform radiographic examination of any pressurized vessels or pipes at either power stations or petrochemical plants such as Sasol - so start stop using any electricity or petrol/diesel, because then you support nuclear; moreover, if you or any of your beloved family or friends have cancer, please do not use radio-active isotopes for such treatment!

      abram.spamers - 2012-07-13 10:15

      The anti-nuclear ranting most people do is just hyped up nonsence. Understand why they are supposedly so dangerous before trying to shoot it down. South Africa is actually quite perfect for nuclear power... we have the uranium... we know how to handle depleted uranium... we don't have massive natural disasters... we are mostly surrounded by the ocean... we are elevated... we are among the leaders of nuclear energy development.

      michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 10:21

      Ohh please, nuclear is worth the small risk, we dont live in the stone age. Just out of interest what would have the world do for power?????

      bvniekerk - 2012-07-13 10:23

      Dont be a fool, Clinton, just look on google-earth what Chernobyl looks like after incompetant people ran a nuclear powerplant into the ground. Meltdowns: Usa LongIsland, Chernobyl, Japan. . .and many other close calls. . never reported. . three too many.

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-13 10:44

      Clinton, Westley and Paul, Part of your comments is true, but to say one needs a nuclear plant to treat cancer, is nonsence. But there is another issue here. There are at present only a handful of countries with nuclear power plants, but more and more nations are 'demanding' to also have these. Surely , you are aware, that the step from nuclear energy to nuclear bombs is small, and unbelievable dangerous to anybody on this planet. Take Iran; Nobody would want to deny Iran to have nuclear 'energy' But we are all aware, Iran, is an exporter of terrorism, and if they manage to produce atomic bombs, they are not that stupid to use these themselves, but will without any doubt supply terrorist organisations throughout the world with these WMD. Just for this reason; STOP ANY NUCLEAR FACILITY !! The Germans, have as much benefit of the possitive side of having nuclear facilities, but they are 'clever and brave' enough, to have decided by 2022 to have closed down all 18 ,of their plants!! ( and Harry , if you cannot make a comment ,without insulting someome, rather f off from this site !! )

      hugo.mabasa - 2012-07-13 12:36

      bvniekerk chernobyl accident was not as a result of incompetence but as a result of 1)generally poor technology(BWR)same as Fukushima.Many are in operation in the US as well 2)the secrecy 'rule' which is a hallmark of socialist/communist regimes.The physics was brilliant but the politics bad and hindered a lot of good practices.The same can be said of capatalism and greed in commercially run nukes(cost cutting ends up cutting too many corners)

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-07-13 12:44

      And before making a comment re nuclear facilities safety, take the trouble to go to, TODAY'S News24 World section, and read about, what could become, a nuclear crisis, in the USA !!!!!!!

      michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 14:42

      Hugo flip man, you are talking out your ass again! The Chernobyl accident was due to incompetence, the operator who was in charge of the time, (his shift if you will call it that) pushed the reactor way above its operating limits and bypassing the safety features of the reactor with regards to cooling, his staff urged him NOT to do what he was doing. The design wasnt perfect by any means, but pushing a machine to its limits to see where it will break is asking for trouble, and in a nuclear reactor / facility, you are asking for serious trouble. Get your facts straight first.

  • paul.john.790256 - 2012-07-13 08:51

    Last time this was address in Parliament, Trevor Manual claimed it was unpatriotic to mention these incidents. Shows little he knows.

  • Matthew - 2012-07-13 08:54

    What if stealing the uranium (as stupid as that is by itself) , wasnt the agenda...what this isnt a theif.what if he wanted to get close enough to plant a bomb?

      Ze Don - 2012-07-13 09:06

      What's your point? You can't cause a nuclear explosion that way.

      Matthew - 2012-07-13 11:16

      Its possible.Terrorist situation. Guy goes in.bombs rigged up.makes a call,demands money or whatever.or he presses the button,kills himself and everyone else.thats all dude,just thinking out the box.

      timmy.ditsele - 2012-07-13 11:36

      There has to be a rection before an explosion, you can put as many grenades inside the storage of enriched uranium and no explosionwill take place.

      hugo.mabasa - 2012-07-13 12:12

      uranium has to be sprayed with neutrons to initiate a reaction not 'bombs',duh!

      michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 16:27

      I hate to tell you this but Matthew is right.... To cause a nuclear explosion, that is mass destruction with high radiation is not possible by the means you say, but... a, "dirty" bomb by the way of little to no destruction but also high yields of radiation / radioactive material IS completely possible with conventional explosives and any radioactive material.

  • ben.louw.5 - 2012-07-13 08:55

    Luckily the thieves are just as retarded as the security staff.

  • ricky.hammer.92 - 2012-07-13 08:56

    And if islamic fundamentalists get their hands on this stuff? Security should be beefed up and a shoot too kill order given for any trespassers.

      hendrik.leroux.7 - 2012-07-13 09:03

      Ricky, the only people in SA shooting to kill these days are (1) farm attackers, (2) hijackers, (3) urban housebreakers, (4) Cape Flats gang members. Now, none of the above would opt for employment as security staff at Pelindaba (too little reward), so how do you propose they get somebody to "shoot to kill" in this laugh-a-minute society of ours?

      Ze Don - 2012-07-13 09:07

      I assume you're going to have the same orders issued for anyone approaching a x-ray machine as well?

      ricky.hammer.92 - 2012-07-13 09:36

      Ze Don. You going to build dirty bombs with an x-ray machine?

      Ze Don - 2012-07-13 10:17

      You use the radiation source from the x-ray machine. It uses radioactive isotopes to generate x-rays remember ;-) Short answer is YES you can build a dirty bomb using an x-ray machine. Anyway, dirty bombs are better at causing panic than actually causing damage.

      michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 10:27

      Its not that easy to make a nuclear bomb, their are only a handful of scientist around the world that know the exact ins and outs of it, add that together with the billions of USD worth of machinery and equipment needed to produce one... well, i guess thats why only a few countries in the world have nuclear weapons, and those are seriously safeguarded. But... creating a, "dirty bomb" is much easier and far more deadly in the long run.

      reon.stoman - 2012-07-13 10:56

      By the way - SA had numerous nuclear physicists. The nuclear (dirty) bombs - 5 if I remember correctly were dismantled after 1994.

      michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 11:11

      Reon they werent, "dirty" bombs, the bombs we copied from Israel using their technology was in turn Americas technology, were an old 1940's type of bomb. Their scientists assited ours, very big difference, we most centainly didnt do it on our won, we are not that smart. And also a dirty bomb is not a nuclear explosion in any sense.

      reon.stoman - 2012-07-13 11:19

      Uhh Michael - I worked with some of those scientists after 1994!

      michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 13:43

      Reon either you were the janitor or you failed physics, in 1994 you would have been what, three years old? I just find it hard to believe someone who claims they worked in a very secure & highly secretive facility (in those days) or with the said individuals, dosent know the difference between basic bomb types? Hmmmm.... But I could be wrong, many nuclear physicists are still at Hoërskool Garsfontein. Hahaha

  • gregory.jurgens - 2012-07-13 09:17

    If it exists in SA it will get broken into. I once loaded dog Sh*t in a box and taped it closed ,to be dumped and it was stolen off the back of my bakkie..

  • Lourenzo - 2012-07-13 09:17

    Its the CIA, so that they can be offered a contract to guard it.

  • danie.smit.587 - 2012-07-13 09:29

    Affirmative gaurds and management, that should have stayed cleaners rather ?

  • vern.welgemoed - 2012-07-13 09:30

    Even more concerning is the middle east contractors employeed there?

  • jacques.budler - 2012-07-13 09:37

    I am always amazed by how many people call other people stupid and say it proudly with bad spelling and poor general poor use of the written word.

      DraganTrenk - 2012-07-13 10:25

      Don't mix intellect with education,Jacques.Budler. Officially-95% of native GB citizens can't speak or write own language.

      michael.barns.1 - 2012-07-13 10:29

      you just messed that sentence up! haha and also no punctuation.... you loose! haha

      rob.bayliss.94 - 2012-07-13 11:47

      ALL: Also don't confuse education with training. The vast majority of degrees bestowed by universities today seem to be heavily weighted towards technical training. It is a real stretch to describe some of these as education.

  • carolyn.dewrance - 2012-07-13 10:32

    Pelindaba is hiding more then uranium.

      Ze Don - 2012-07-13 10:39

      You're right, I don't think they've found all the easter eggs from earlier this year! Have you ever been to Pelendaba? Do you have any idea what they do there?

  • Marco - 2012-07-13 11:33

    actually the difference between a dirty and clean bomb is dependant on the altitude above ground level at which it is detonated my nuclear fundies

  • rob.bayliss.94 - 2012-07-13 11:39

    This is very scary! Consider how well our government is managing service de;ivery and how often we here of incidents of theft and corruption. The possibility of someone seeing an opportunity and taking it seems to be worth considering. I doubt if the real threat is to SA, more likely to US/Europe.....I wonder how they see the risks at Pelindaba?

  • gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-07-13 13:44

    Which people are interested in that kind of material? Can the ANC do anything right? There isn't one department in which they are not sadly lacking.

  • sisie.indola - 2012-07-13 13:57

    Anyone seen the "Incredible Hulk" anywhere?

  • keith.murphy.9638 - 2012-07-13 13:58

    I think we should help Iran and donate that uranium to them and some to NKorea too

  • armand.horn.58 - 2012-07-13 14:09


  • Shaka - 2012-07-13 16:17

    PANIC. Someone cut a hole in the fence at Pelindaba and now the Uranium is at risk. Come on people. Thats like saying a yob broke a window at Windsor Castle and the crown jewels could have been stolen. Maybe go to Pelindaba and see the place before you panic. Pelindaba is one of the best run businesses in SA and produces a large proportion of the world's medical isotopes. They are run well and are very secure. Give them some credit already.

  • Marli - 2012-07-13 19:34

    Is somebody or a group of people with high level links in SA government now trying to sell Polonium, Uranium or some heavy material and technology to corrupt and pariah states? And make it look like a common burglary? You need to have advanced knowledge of nuclear technology (degree in Physics or Engineering) to exactly know what they are after. Get the task force (SAPS) or Recce's (SANDF) to protect Pelendaba. If the ruling party is not capable to do so get help from Europe (Germany) or the USA. Who is next to die of radiation or an unexplainable disease with nuclear type symptoms? Bashar Al Assad and his complete clan?

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