Zuma lauds nuclear plant's cancer treatment, despite closure of unit over safety fears

2017-12-07 16:52
President Jacob Zuma. (Thuli Dlamini, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

President Jacob Zuma. (Thuli Dlamini, Gallo Images, The Times, file)

Multimedia   ·   User Galleries   ·   News in Pictures Send us your pictures  ·  Send us your stories

Johannesburg – President Jacob Zuma has lauded the production of cancer treatment at the Pelindaba nuclear plant, despite the shutdown of that section for safety reasons in November.

"South Africa boasts a nuclear research reactor facility at Pelindaba that produces nuclear medicine, which gets injected into a patient on average every three seconds in more than 60 countries," Zuma said at the Energy Indaba in Midrand on Thursday.

On Wednesday, South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) spokesperson Nikelwa Tengimfene told News24 that, since the production line of radioisotope cancer treatment at the Pelindaba nuclear plant was halted in November, the corporation has been losing about R3.5m every day.

READ: Necsa losing millions daily after cancer treatment production shut down

Necsa produces radioactive atoms for medical purposes, and cancer patients in 60 countries depend on its products.

Local facilities that receive isotopes include the Steve Biko and Charlotte Maxeke hospitals in Gauteng.

Tengimfene said at the time that, although production at NTP Radioisotopes - a Necsa unit - remained closed, Necsa had made contingency plans for cancer patients to receive medication.

She said safety concerns after the machine malfunctioned caused the stop in production.

The matter was reported to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), which advised Necsa to stop all operations immediately.

Since the incident, three Necsa senior executives have been placed on special leave.

Necsa would make an announcement on production resumption in due time, Tengimfene said on Wednesday.  

At Thursday's Energy Indaba, Necsa CEO Kelvin Kemm sang the praises of the reactor itself, saying that the facility ran 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

"We are extremely proud of this and the people who operate it," Kemm added.

Tengimfene and presidency spokesperson Bongani Ngqulunga could not be reached for comment.

*Additional reporting by Yolandi Groenewald

Read more on:    necsa  |  jacob zuma  |  nuclear  |  health

Inside News24

Traffic Alerts
There are new stories on the homepage. Click here to see them.


Create Profile

Creating your profile will enable you to submit photos and stories to get published on News24.

Please provide a username for your profile page:

This username must be unique, cannot be edited and will be used in the URL to your profile page across the entire 24.com network.