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Anti uranium protest in Johannesburg South Africa

protest-2flag-S.AfricaPROTESTERS RAISE CONCERNS OF THE ENVIRONMENTAL INJUSTICE POSED BY NUCLEAR http://earthlife.org.za/2014/07/protesters-outside-nersa-public-hearing/

Whilst the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) public hearings on the guidelines for the electricity reseller tariffs were ongoing inside Gallagher convention centre today, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and different community based organisations were demonstrating their frustrations over the unreasonably high electricity tariffs charged by Eskom and its many electricity resellers outside the venue.

http://earthlife.org.za/2014/07/protesters-outside-nersa-public-hearing/“…………..protesters are concerned that South African consumers are not seeing the promised investment in social infrastructure because of the huge national debt being accumulated by Eskom. But one of the reasons for the debt is the cheap electricity supply deal that the power utility holds with Australian company BHB Billiton resulting in losses estimated at more than R11.5 billion. Lerato Maragele, Education and Outreach Officer at Earthlife Africa Jhb, explains that: “NERSA must investigate and widely publicise how lost Eskom revenue translates into electricity tariff increases for households.”

Thirdly, protesters are concerned by NERSA’s apparent inactivity on Eskom’s failure to build electricity power stations to budget and on time, and the resultant electricity price increases. “The mandate of NERSA is to promote the protection of the interests of vulnerable groups within the Electricity Supply Industry. The delays at Medupi and Kusile are causing a ripple effect throughout the whole supply chain and impacting on the most vulnerable consumers,” explains Dominique Doyle, Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg.

CONTACTS:

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:
Makoma Lekalakala
Senior Programme Manager
Tel (w): 011 339 3662
Mobile: 082 682 9177
Email: makoma [at] earthlife.org.za
Dominique Doyle
Energy Policy Officer
Tel (w): 011 339 3662
Mobile: 079 331 2028
Email: dominique [at] earthlife.org.za

July 23, 2014 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

A plea for support for anti uranium protesters arrested in Niger

Dear South African Fellows of the SALT
text-Please-NotePlease note that it was agreed by common consent this year
that the campaign to end uranium mining in Niger with regard
would be a primary focus of the African Uranium Alliance,
founded in Tanzania in 2010.
Now our comrades in Niger have been arrested for their dissent
and need our active support in South Africa, through BRICS,
through the Department of International Relations and through
the African Union, not to mention  Amnesty International and the
United Nations.
Remember how much we were supported in our struggles against
Apartheid by foreign governments, by overseas donors, and by
ordinary citizens of the global Anti-Apartheid Movement.
Now let us return the favour by standing by our leaders in Niger.
Contact your local press, your radio stations, and television stations.
Write to your local Member of Parliament, your leaders in Faith and
your union leaders. Raise the matter on Facebook, Twitter and by way
of public speaking.
The citizens of Niger cannot be held accountable for resistance to the
unjust and unacceptable system of uranium exploitation. Rather should
they be listened to with respect and their basic human rights to free speech
and free association afforded by the State of Niger and its allies in France.
The French Government would never be allowed to get away with
such a breach of human rights in their own country. They should not be
given any right to do so in their former colonies abroad.
After all, they are the architects of the slogan, “Liberte, Egalite, Fraternite”.
Let them practise today what their ancestors did before them.
Let the NIGER TEN go free.

July 23, 2014 Posted by | civil liberties, Niger, opposition to nuclear, Uranium | Leave a comment

Living on a radioactive uranium dump

uranium-oreWhat does uranium do?

When uranium is ingested it is deposited in the kidneys, lungs, brain and bone marrow. The alpha particles – which contain massive doses of energy – sit in these parts and damage the tissue around them. Because it is an endocrine disrupter, it increases the risk of fertility problems and reproductive cancer. Large doses are fatal, but the constant exposure to low levels has intergenerational effects that are still not fully understood

flag-S.AfricaOne man’s home is another man’s uranium dump, Mail & Guardian, Africa 18 JUL 2014 SIPHO KINGS With nowhere else to live, many seek refuge in the radiation wastelands in Gauteng, unaware of the deadly dangers the abandoned mining areas present……..Faded photographs in the town museum show people sunbathing and swimming in the lake in the 1980s. There were bars, a jetty and a miniature putting course. Now only the foundations remain after it was closed because of the increasing concentration of uranium in Robinson Lake.

In the past it was a place for the residents of Randfontein – 50km west of Johannesburg – to relax on the weekend and forget their jobs in the mining industry. But in the late 1990s the underground mines started closing because the falling price of gold and uranium made them unprofitable. The mines were abandoned and the water levels inside started rising. Acid mine drainage began seeping into the dam, increasing the level of uranium to levels 220 times higher than the safe limit. The resort closed.

Deep into winter a chill breeze blows across the lake, creating ripples in the clear water. The surface is a stark blue reflection of the sky, with the bottom tainted red from the heavy metals in the water. No alga grow here, no fish swim, no underwater life ripples the surface.

The periphery of the lake is a wide ring of cracked yellow earth. The soil beyond is brown. There are 20m-high blue gum trees. There are yellow signs with “Radiation area – Supervised area” wired to the fence around the area and nailed to the trees.

Gold seam
The Witwatersrand gold seam runs for about 100km, from Randfontein in the west of Johannesburg to Springs in the east. A century of mining drove a mining boom, thanks to this being the world’s largest concentration of the precious metal.

Mine shafts up to 3km deep were sunk. The waste was dumped above ground in over 400 mine dumps or tailings dams that now dot the province. These contain a mixture of heavy metals, and an estimated 600 000 tonnes of uranium.

The Cancer Association of South Africa (Cansa) says this is the only place in the world where large numbers of people live next to dumps full of uranium. Continue reading

July 19, 2014 Posted by | environment, South Africa, Uranium | Leave a comment

USA and France co-operating on the militarisation of Africa: Niger uranium

Uranium games in Niger and the US-Franco competition Andrew Korybko for RT  June 11, 2014 The West has actively been making multidimensional inroads into Africa over the past decade, largely of a malignant nature. The US and its NATO allies are interested in market potential, energy prospects, and military engagement…….

France has been de-facto appointed as the US’ “lead from behind partner” in this region, but the relationship between the two NATO allies is not as secure as it initially seems. Through the overlap of security responsibilities in uranium-rich Niger, the US is positioning itself for long-term control of the uranium mines that help drive France’s economy…….
 uranium significance cue in American military involvement in Niger. Last year the US sent 100 troops there to build and operate a drone base for use against the militants traversing the country and staged nearby. Just last month, the US announced that it will also be training so-called elite counterterrorism units in Libya, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. While the US is delegating a large share of military responsibility to France in the region, it is still directly involving itself in specific matters that it deems of critical importance. Niger is arguably a tinderbox of terror, but it is also exceptionally important for France’s strategic energy needs. Hegemonic influence over Niger would indirectly lead to substantial control over France’s uranium dependency, thereby allowing Washington to leverage influence over Paris……….

Altogether, the US and France are closely cooperating in the NATO militarization of Africa during the “Second Scramble”. Despite being somewhat different in their approaches, they represent “two hands from the same magician” working behind the scenes to advance the Western interest there. Concurrently, as can be seen by the NSA spying directed against European “allies”, Washington does not place full trust in those that it cooperates with. Therefore, it is fully in line with America’s established track record of deceit to hedge itself towards a position of guiding influence over its partners, specifically France. In the event that Paris’ ambitions for power get the best of it and it once more “goes rogue” from Atlantic command, the US will play the Nigerien uranium card to enact maximum pressure on the country and force it back into the unipolar fold. http://rt.com/op-edge/165092-west-africa-uranium-games/

June 13, 2014 Posted by | Niger, Uranium, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Total costs of nuclear power make it uneconomic for South Africa

Long time frames and dodgy numbers justify worry about nuclear power’s cost, Business Report, South
Africa  June 10 2014 By Yvette Abraam 

“………My chief objection to nuclear power is precisely on the cost issue……….from 2008 to early 2010 nuclear costs were stated to be twice as much by nuclear power vendors than by the state. By early 2011, after a multitude of submissions by civil society, even the state admitted that it had undercosted nuclear power by about 40 percent and included a new estimate. The new estimate remained substantially lower than the two tenders submitted by suppliers.

Yet the amount of nuclear energy planned in the IRP II remains unchanged, despite the variation in costs. International experience rates the cost of constructing nuclear plants at about $6 000 (R63 500) per kilowatt hour.

The South African energy planning process calculated this cost as $3 000 in 2010 and $4 300 in 2011 – on what basis remains a mystery.

The second problem with assembling a budget for nuclear procurement is that the costs of waste disposal and decommissioning are of the same order as the cost of construction, but are beset by large uncertainties. For example, in the 2007/08 annual report and accounts of nuclear power generator British Energy, it was estimated the cost of decommissioning its eight plants was £9.4 billion (R167bn) and the cost of disposing of the spent fuel was £5.5bn.

Although we can estimate the order of magnitude, the actual costs are affected by the choice of technology. As such, it is important to include these costs in a tender since they deeply affect the final choice of bidder. So far these costs have not been included in South African energy planning.

As far as the cost of waste disposal is concerned, it has to be borne in mind that these costs have to be borne for a minimum of two and a half centuries before the waste can safely be neglected. Even a very small error in calculation can lead to very large divergences across this timespan. Under conventional accounting procedure, liabilities that must be met in the future should be discounted.

nuclear-true-costs

Effectively, this means that a sum of money (or assets of that value) is set aside now and it is assumed that money will earn interest and grow to meet the liability……..What happens if, as is the case in Germany and Japan, the interest rate is negative? It would mean we have to set aside more money now than will be required in the future.

This example demonstrates the point that the really difficult part of nuclear energy planning is that the amount it is going to cost is not knowable. Calculating the net present value of a 250-year expenditure would require that we could foresee the interest rate and the inflation rate for the next 250 years. But we are citizens, not soothsayers. Anybody who tells you they can predict these costs is talking through their hat. To any suggestion that we should give the approval anyway and trust officials to prevent any unreasonable cost overruns, I have but one word: Nkandla.

 

* Dr Yvette Abrahams works in the department of women and gender studies at University of the Western Cape and with Electricity Governance Initiative South Africa. http://www.iol.co.za/business/opinion/long-time-frames-and-dodgy-numbers-justify-worry-about-nuclear-power-s-cost-1.1700897#.U5oL1HJdUnk

June 12, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

Curtains for Autralian uranium miner Paladin’s mine in Malawi

Paladin to shut its uranium mine, Australian Mining,  27 May, 2014 Cole Latimer Paladin has announced it will cease production at its Kayelekera uranium mine in Malawi. It comes after the miner advised it would place the operation in to care and maintenance earlier this year. According to Paladin it is ceasing production “due to reasons beyond the company’s control and related to the depressed uranium prices”. On May 21 it halted all operations at the mine, and will now cease supplying uranium to the global market, causing a drop of around 3.3 million pounds of supply per annum. “The outcome is an unfortunate but direct consequence of the continuing deterioration in the uranium price,” the company said in a statement. “Certain estimates now place up to 60% of current annual global production with costs above the current spot price, which is unsustainable.”…..http://www.miningaustralia.com.au/news/paladin-to-shut-its-uranium-mine

May 29, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Malawi | Leave a comment

Niger still short-changed in new uranium deal with AREVA

areva-medusa1Niger, Areva in hard-won uranium deal, Yahoo 7 Finance, 26 May 14The government of Niger and French nuclear energy group Areva announced on Monday that they had signed a deal to renew a decades-old agreement for the operation of two uranium mines.

Under the deal, negotiated for 18 months, Areva agreed that a 2006 mining law sharply increasing taxes on mineral extracted would apply to the Somair and Cominak operations in the north of the country which it partially controls.

“We have heard the government’s legitimate call for higher receipts coming from uranium,” said Luc Oursel, Areva CEO, on a visit to Niamey to sign the deal.

However, a joint statement said that the operations would be exempt from sales tax over the course of the five-year deal.

The revenue issue had been the main sticking point in the talks since the government considered that the previous contracts, which expired at the end of last year, were unfavourable to the country, the fourth-biggest producer of uranium in the world.

The French arm of charity Oxfam, which has been a sharp critic of state-controlled Areva’s uranium dealings with Niger, said the new deal continued to shortchange Nigeriens, who stood to lose “10 to 15 million euros a year.” ($13.6 to $20.5 million)……. https://au.finance.yahoo.com/news/niger-areva-hard-won-uranium-085912953.html

May 27, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Niger, politics international | Leave a comment

AREVA’ s giant new Imouraren uranium mine stalled due to poor market

graph-down-uraniumAreva signs uranium deal with Niger, delays new mine May 27, 2014 By Abdoulaye Massalaki NIAMEY (Reuters) – French nuclear group Areva agreed to a reduction in tax breaks and a rise in royalty rates at its uranium mines in Niger on Monday but said the start of production at its giant new Imouraren mine would be delayed until prices improve……https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/23870138/areva-signs-uranium-deal-with-niger-delays-new-mine/

May 27, 2014 Posted by | business and costs, Niger | Leave a comment

Poverty-stricken African nations exploited by mining companies, especially Australian uranium miners

THE SCRAMBLE FOR URANIUM IN AFRICA http://www.phantomreport.com/the-scramble-for-uranium-in-africa 19 May 14, Africa’s resources are extracted by outsiders, with benefits only reaching the involved non-African mining companies and non-African end-users of the commodity. Africa is the next frontier to meet energy needs. Oil and gas are being exploited as never before, exacerbating conflict in Darfur and Nigeria, social inequality in Angola, and environmental damage in Chad.

At the same time, renewed demand for uranium is being explored on the continent more than at any other time in history.

Yet the continent’s huge potential for renewable energy is not fully being realised. The government of Malawi granted a uranium mining licence to an Australian uranium mining company without having any legislation on the mining, handling and transportation of radioactive materials. Malawi is now home to twelve potential uranium mines.

In Niger mining companies from Australia, Canada, France and other parts of the world are scrambling for licences to explore uranium in a country which is already the world’s sixth producer of uranium. In the Central African Republic (CAR) there is a scramble amongst Chinese, American and French companies which are all interested in mining the Bakouma region.

In Tanzania the Australian Omega Corp obtained the Mkuju River concessions through its subsidiary, Mantra Resources. Other Australian juniors are represented in Tanzania, including Sabre Resources, Goldstream Mining, Uranex and Deep Yellow.

In Zambia, the Australian Energy Ventures through its subsidiary Africa Energy Resources started drilling the Kariba Valley in May 2008. Another Australian enterprise, Albion Ltd,, is also undertaking exploration.

In Nigeria, representatives of the South Korean Institute for Geoscience and Mineral Resources visited Nigeria in late 2005 to discuss exploration and co-operation. In Namibia uranium has been mined since 1976 at Rössing, which has the world’s largest open cast excavation. Closure has been staved off by the rise in the price of uranium. A second Australian-owned mine, Langer Heinrich, has come into operation inside the fragile Namib-Naukluft National Park and run by the same company which has invested in uranium at Kayelekera in Malawi. Other mines are scheduled to come on stream in the near future, at Venecia and Trekkopje, and exploration continues in a dozen other areas. Recently a moratorium has been placed on granting further exploration licences. Uranium is found in arid areas where water and energy are scarce. Namibia is also considering nuclear energy, and already has overtures from Russia and South Africa to offer reactors. Read More at Wise International

May 20, 2014 Posted by | AFRICA, AUSTRALIA, politics international, Uranium | Leave a comment

Nigeria to get nuclear power plant. Is this a GOOD idea?

Nigeria to get $6bn nuclear plant in 2022 – commission  PUNCH, MAY 15, 2014 BY OLUSOLA FABIYI  The Nigeria Atomic Energy Commission has revealed that the country will get a nuclear plant in 2022 at a cost of $6b dollars.

The Director, Human Resources of the commission, Professor Simon Mallam, who stated this on Thursday when he appeared before the national conference committee on Energy, also urged the Federal government to explore and develop all sources of energy available in the country…..Mallam further advised that although the country wasted a little time in the nuclear arena, it would still be able to deliver nuclear power by 2022 if the enabling environment and support could be given….http://www.punchng.com/news/nigeria-to-get-6bn-nuclear-plant-in-2022-commission/

May 16, 2014 Posted by | Nigeria, politics | Leave a comment

Africa’s powerful future with renewable energy

logo-IRENARenewable energy will power Africa’s ambitious future Adnan Amin May 3, 2014  It’s time to prove wrong the widely held stereotype about renewable energy only being for rich countries.

As a native of Kenya, I am fortunate to have personal experience of how renewable energy can transform a country that is developing fast. Energy sources in Kenya have diversified since 2000, when renewable power capacity contributed 5.4 per cent of the country’s total energy mix. By 2012, this figure had grown to 16.2 per cent.

With smart planning and prudent investment, all African countries can reduce their dependence on fossil fuels and leapfrog into a sustainable future. And, as Africa makes the transition to renewable energy in the coming years, new projects will provide much-needed jobs and power economic growth………Irena’s initiative encourages the deployment of hydro, geothermal, biomass, wind and solar options from Cairo to Cape Town to increase capacity, stabilise the grid, and reduce fossil fuel dependency. It is a regional approach, promoting international cooperation across countries of the eastern and southern African power pools to develop vast energy resources, optimise the energy mix and attract more investment. The plan identifies development zones to cluster renewable plants in areas with high potential, resource planning, new financing models and knowledge and capacity building.

This week, as we convene for the Abu Dhabi Ascent, we are welcoming many African ministers who have engaged with us on this project.

The Africa Clean Energy Corridor is one of the many concrete steps needed that offer a cost-effective, economically viable solution to the climate challenge that lies ahead of us.

With the right combination of policy, investment and rapid deployment, we can make substantial progress in decarbonising the world’s energy mix while generating growth and employment. http://www.thenational.ae/thenationalconversation/comment/renewable-energy-will-power-africas-ambitious-future#ixzz30tYRkXQl

May 5, 2014 Posted by | AFRICA, renewable | Leave a comment

Rio Tinto’s $billion uranium profits at the expense of cancer death sin Africa

Uranium kills in Namibia http://www.news24.com/Columnists/AndreasSpath/Uranium-kills-in-Namibia-20140422 2014-04-22  Andreas Wilson-Späth 

That uranium is a radioactive and toxic substance with potentially lethal impacts on the people who dig it out of the ground is generally glossed over by those among us who argue for nuclear power as a clean, green, safe and sustainable source of electricity.

Along with other intractable problems faced by the atomic energy industry – like its propensity to lay to waste entire landscapes if and when things go wrong and the fact that we still don’t have a long-term solution for storing its noxious waste products – this is not in dispute. It’s merely a matter of unintended side-effects. Collateral damage.

For uranium miners in Namibia, however, their occupation in proximity to the metal has much more first-hand and personal consequences. A report soon to be released by Earthlife Namibia and the Labour Resource and Research Institute argues that long-time workers at the Rössing uranium mine are routinely exposed to unhealthy working conditions, radiation and dust.

For uranium miners in Namibia, however, their occupation in proximity to the metal has much more first-hand and personal consequences. A report soon to be released by Earthlife Namibia and theLabour Resource and Research Institute argues that long-time workers at the Rössing uranium mine are routinely exposed to unhealthy working conditions, radiation and dust. The survey of current and former Rössing employees suggests that an anomalous number of them are dying of cancer and other mysteriously unexplained illnesses caused by their working conditions.

Rössing, which is located in central Namibia and employs over 1500 people, is majority owned (69%) by British-Australian mining giant Rio Tinto. The next biggest shareholders of the mine are the government of Iran (10%) and our own Industrial Development Corporation (10%).

Rio Tinto officials have consistently denied that they’re to blame for any harm, insisting that their operations at Rössing and elsewhere, including their copper, gold, coal, bauxite, iron ore and diamond mines around the world, are well monitored and run ethically, for the benefit of local communities, respecting human rights and protecting the environment.

But a closer look at the multinational’s global operations reveals that Rio Tinto isn’t quite as squeaky clean as they would like us to believe:

• At the end of last year, radioactive and acidic slurry spilled from a uranium processing tank at Rössing. Two weeks later the damaged rubber lining of a similar tank at the company’s Ranger mine in Australia’s Northern Territory leaked more than a million litres of the stuff.

• In 2013, 33 miners perished when a tunnel collapsed at Rio Tinto’s Grasberg gold and copper mine in Indonesia – the largest portion of the total of 41 deaths at their global operations during that year which international trade union IndustriAll claims the company should have done more to prevent.

• Locals have blamed the Grasberg mine for pollution affecting the environment and population.

• In Madagascar, activists have accused Rio Tinto of “land grabbing and environmental devastation”.

• A lawsuit has been filed against Rio Tinto’s Bingham Canyon mine in the US state of Utah for five-year breaches in air pollution regulations. The organisations that brought the case claim, that on some days the dust from the mine has a similar “effect on people who are consistently outdoors” as “smoking a pack of cigarettes a day”

• In Mongolia, indigenous nomadic herders have raised concerns that an expansion of Rio Tinto’s Oyu Tolgoi copper and gold mine in the Gobi desert would threaten the integrity of the local ecosystem along with their access to fresh water.

Of course Rio Tinto also made over $1 billion in profits last year. I guess in the minds of the company’s executives that justifies the occasional mishap.

- Andreas is a freelance writer with a PhD in geochemistry. Follow him on Twitter:@Andreas_Spath

April 23, 2014 Posted by | health, Namibia, Uranium | Leave a comment

Will Australia’s scientifically illiterate government be sucked in to buying Small Modular Nuclear Reactors (SMRs)?

In 2014, it was becoming clear that Small Modular Reactors (SMRs) were not likely to become an operational reality for many decades — and perhaps never.

America was the pioneer of small reactor design in the 1970s.  Again recently, Westinghouse and Babcock and Wilcox have been the leaders in designing and developing SMRs.

But in 2014, the bottom has fallen out of these projects………..

It should be noted that nowhere in [the original article about China, does the author]  Chen mention “small” reactors. However, Australian proponents of ‘small’ reactors welcomed this article, as the Thorium Small Nuclear Reactor is the favourite type proposed for Australia from all 15 possible small designs.

So, while we’re being told that China is racing ahead in the scramble to get these wonderful SMRs, in fact, China has been very much encouraged and helped into this by the U.S. Department of Energy.

This is understandable, seeing that for China it is a government project, with no required expectation of being commercially viable.

In their enthusiasm for China’s thorium nuclear project, writers neglected to mention the sobering points that Stephen Chen made in his South China Morning Post article, such as:

  • Researchers working on the project said they were under unprecedented ‘war-like’ pressure to succeed and some of the technical challenges they faced were difficult, if not impossible to solve.’
  • ‘… opposition from sections of the Chinese public.’
  • ‘… technical difficulties – the molten salt produces highly corrosive chemicals  that could damage the reactor.’
  • ‘The power plant would also have to operate at extremely high temperatures, raising concerns about safety. In addition, researchers have limited knowledge of how to use thorium.’
  • ‘… engineering difficulties .…The thorium reactors would need years, if not decades, to overcome the corrosion issue.’
  • ‘These projects are beautiful to scientists, but nightmarish to engineers.’……….

Australia’s SMR enthusiasts discount the known problems of SMRs. Some brief reminders from the September 2013 report, from the United States’ Institute for Energy and Environmental Research:

  • ‘Economics: $90 billion manufacturing order book could be required for mass production of SMRs …the industry’s forecast of relatively inexpensive individual SMRs is predicated on major orders and assembly line production.’
  • ‘SMRs will lose the economies of scale of large reactors.’
  •  ‘SMRs could reduce some safety risks but also create new ones.’
  • ‘It breaks, you bought it: no thought is evident on how to handle SMR recalls.’
  • Not a proliferation solution. ‘The use of enriched uranium or plutonium in thorium fuel has proliferation implications.’
  • Not a waste solution: ‘The fission of thorium creates long-lived fission products like technetium-99 (half-life over 200,000 years).’
  • Ongoing technical problems. ……….http://www.independentaustralia.net/environment/environment-display/strange-timing-to-suggest-a-lego-nuclear-future-for-australia,6404

April 22, 2014 Posted by | South Africa, spinbuster | 3 Comments

Rio Tinto’s AGM faced with facts on radiological impact of Rossing uranium mine

uranium-oreRadiological Impact of Rössing Uranium Mine – Namibia http://www.facing-finance.org/en/2014/04/radiological-impact-of-rossing-uranium-mine-namibia/ April 17th, 2014 by 

At the Annual General Meeting of Rio Tinto in London, 15 May text-radiation2014, two recent reports about the impact of the uranium mine Rössing near Arandis, Namibia, on the environment and health were presented to the shareholders.

In cooperation with Earthlife Namibia, the French organizationCRIIRAD (Commission de Recherhe et d’Information Independantes sur la Radioactivite) analyzed the radiation of soil, water and sediments samples taken near Rössing´s mine caused by the tailing dams and waste rock dumps. Results show elevated levels of heavy metals and uranium in the samples up to more than 2000 times higher than WHO recommendations.

In their study, Earthlife Namibia surveyed the health status of current and former workers of the mine. Many of them complained of health problems, among them respiratory problems and illnesses due to the constant exposure to radon gas and dust.

CRIIRAD and Earthlife Namibia demand more independent research on radiation at the Rössing mine, a broad independent examination of the health status of workers and access to monitoring data for experts, as well as workers´ unrestricted access to their own medical reports.

Read CRIIRAD´s report here

Read Earthlife Namibia´s report here

April 19, 2014 Posted by | environment, Namibia, Uranium | 1 Comment

Death and disease among uranium workers in Rio Tinto’s mines

uranium-oreUranium workers dying after time at Namibia mine, report warns http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/apr/15/uranium-workers-dying-cancer-rio-tinto-namibia-mine

Miners who dug ore to supply the military found to be dying of cancers and other illnesses at Rio Tinto’s Rössing mine  Miners who dug uranium ore that supplied the British and US military in the 1970s with the raw material for bombs and civil nuclear power are reported to be dying of cancers and unexplained illnesses after working in one of Africa‘s largest mines.

A study based on questionnaires of current and former workers at the giant Rio Tinto-owned Rössing uranium mine in Namibia says that everyone questioned was aware of people who are now suffering lung infections and unknown illnesses thought to be linked to their work.

The mine, in the Namib desert, produces around 7% of the world’s uranium but was operated with rudimentary safety when it opened in 1976. “People get sick. We are seeing it in people that have worked for Rössing for a long time. They just go back and die after working at Rössing,” one man told researchers working with Earthlife Namibia and the Labour Resource and Research Institute.

The study, which is expected to be published this week, accepts that working conditions in the mine have greatly improved but says that all workers questioned said that they were exposed to high levels of dust.

“Two current workers are on sick leave since 2000 and 2003. One worked as a laboratory technician for 24 years and claims to have proof he was radiated,” says a summary of the paper seen by the Guardian.

Rössing, which mines millions of tonnes of rock a year to extract uranium, employs more than 1,500 people. “Most workers stated that they are not informed about their health conditions and do not know if they have been exposed to radiation or not. Some workers said they consulted a private doctor to get a second opinion,” say the authors.

“The older workers all said they know miners dying of cancers and other illnesses. Many of these are now retired and many have already died of cancers,” says the report.

Aerial view of the discharge channels from Rössing, the world’s largest opencast uranium mine. Photograph: Yann Arthus-Bertrand/CorbisA spokesman for Rio Tinto said that Rössing has been recognised by independent consultants as one of the world’s safest mines. “The health and safety of our employees is the top priority. We have health management systems in place to make sure that everyone goes home safe and healthy every day. Effective controls ensure that radiation exposures to employees are kept well below the Rössing standard for occupational radiation exposure.

“The company keeps detailed records of the health status of its workforce from the day of employment to the day they leave the company. It therefore does not need to speculate on health issues of its employees.”

One former worker said: “Yes, I have cancer now. In the beginning they [Rio Tinto] did not want to give money for the treatment but later when they referred me to a doctor for an operation they gave me money for treatment.”

“Doctors were told not to inform us with our results or tell our illness. They only supply you with medications when you are totally finished up or about to die,” said another.

During the first years of operation, Rössing operated with a migrant labour system which the International Commission of Jurists declared illegal and said was similar to slavery. Black workers lived on the mine premises and were exposed to dust and radiation 24 hours a day and the mine became the focus for protests by anti-apartheid and anti-nuclear groups.

Shares in the mine are owned 69% by UK-based Rio Tinto, and 15% by the government of Iran. The Namibian government has denied supplying Iran with Namibian uranium which could be used for nuclear weapons.

The Erongo region is home to Rössing mine, the oldest and third-largest producer of uranium in the world. The mine sustains the small satellite town (population 7,600) of Arandis, which is visible near the top of the image. Photograph: ALI/EO-1/NASA“Uranium companies generally deny that workers get sick because of exposure to radiation. They blame the bad health conditions to unhealthy lifestyles such as eating habits, tobacco smoking and alcohol,” says the study.

Former Rössing mineworkers and people from communities adversely affected by Rio Tinto mines in west Papua, Madagascar, Namibia, Mongolia and the US will petition Rio Tinto shareholders at Tuesday’s annual meeting in London.

“Rio Tinto is enormous. Its history of attacks on workers’ rights, and environmental destruction has had a particularly damaging impact across the world,” said Richard Solly, co-ordinator of LondonMining Network, an alliance of human rights, development, environmental and solidarity groups.

April 16, 2014 Posted by | AFRICA, health, South Africa, Uranium | 1 Comment

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