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Russia’s nuclear imperialism in Africa

Russia’s nuclear play for power in Africa, DW 2 July 20,

Russia is pushing nuclear technology to African nations to both turn a profit and expand its political might on the continent.  Rwanda’s parliament has just approved a plan for Russia’s state-owned Rosatom nuclear conglomerate to build it a nuclear research center and reactor in the capital, Kigali.

The Center of Nuclear Science and Technologies, planned for completion by 2024, will include nuclear research labs as well as a small research reactor with up to 10 MW capacity.

Ethiopia, Nigeria and Zambia have signed similar deals with Rosatom, while countries such as Ghana, Uganda, Sudan and DRC have less expansive cooperation agreements.

Rosatom has been aggressively wooing African nations since the mid-2000s and the nuclear deals are seen as part of Russia’s push turn a profit and also gain influence in Africa.

Western sanctions first imposed on Russia in 2014 over its annexation of the Crimea in the Ukraine have forced Russia to seek alternative sources of incomes and also new friends.

Nuclear technology instead of trade

“For Putin to remain relevant in Russia, he really has to ensure that Russia has a big influence,” said Ovigwe Eguegu, a geopolitics analyst with the international affairs platform, Afripolitika. “That’s why he is looking at African markets so he has more parties to partner with when it comes to international issues.”

African nations constitute the largest voting bloc in the United Nations.

While the Soviet Union had a close relationship to various African states during the Cold War, Russia’s trade balance with Africa is one tenth of that of China, meaning it needs to look for other means to get a foothold on the continent.

“Russia is using the tools that they have to expand their influence and right now, Russia has lots of experience in the nuclear energy area,” Eguegu said in a phone interview from Abuja.

Rosatom nuclear leader

Rosatom is the world’s biggest nuclear company by foreign orders. While it has projects in developed countries such as Finland and Hungary, it’s mainly involved in developing regions.

The Rosatom packages are popular because the corporation’s sheer size means it can offer all-in-one deals, from training local workers to developing nuclear science curricula, supplying uranium for the plant’s life time and dealing with nuclear waste — with the added plus of Russian state loans for the projects.

The cost and financing of Rwanda’s nuclear research center is still undisclosed. But Russia is extending a $25 billion (€22.23 billion) loan to Egypt to cover 85% of the cost of the El Dabaa nuclear power plant, which Rosatom is constructing.

Rosatom has come to dominate nuclear exports to developing countries because of their generous financing and worker training,” according to the 2018 Center for Global Development policy paper, Atoms for Africa.

Additionally, Russia is itself a major player in the nuclear market, responsible for some 8% of uranium production worldwide as well as 20% of uranium conversion and 43% of uranium enrichment (conversion and enrichment are stages of processing uranium so it can be used by commercial nuclear power reactors)………….

many experts, including Gatari, believe that nuclear technology doesn’t yet make sense for African countries. They lack the highly skilled local workforce required to run the technological intricacies of such reactors. Plus, nuclear facilities are vastly expensive and take years to build.

Gatari warns of countries becoming locked into costly projects that end up being “white elephants”.

“Such a project can only be driven by strong and educated local human resources,” the nuclear researcher said. “That knowledge isn’t possible by rushing young students through training for a short time.

And the cost of maintaining that kind of installation can cripple the budget of a country for a long, long time.”

Doing the smooth sell

Currently, South Africa is the only country in sub-Saharan Africa with a functioning nuclear power plant, while Nigeria and Ghana have research reactors, which are primarily used for studying and training and to test materials, such as minerals.

In Europe, safety concerns around nuclear technologies have already caused countries such as GermanyItaly, Spain and Switzerland to vote to phase out nuclear power.

These concerns are compounded in Africa, given the the political instability of certain regions and the threat of sabotage or terrorist attacks.    This hasn’t stopped Rosatom, and Russia, from doing a soft sell of nuclear technologies on the continent.

Rosatom funds scholarships for students from sub-Saharan Africa to study nuclear sciences and engineering in Russia. As of January 2020, around 300 students from more than 15 African countries were studying nuclear specialties there.

It runs an online video competition, Atoms for Africa, where participants stand a chance to win an all expenses paid trip to Russia for a video dedicated to innovative nuclear technologies.

In 2019, it even held an international fishing competition near the Leningrad nuclear power station, Russia’s largest, to demonstrate the safety of nuclear power for water bodies. (The competition was won by an Egypt team).

“There is good money if you can sell a research reactor,” said nuclear scientist Gatari. “Unfortunately, the convincing capacity of [Rosatom’s] marketing is very high, and the understanding of those  who are buying is low.”  https://www.dw.com/en/russias-nuclear-play-for-power-in-africa/a-54004039

July 2, 2020 Posted by | AFRICA, marketing, politics international, Russia | Leave a comment

South Africa- financially ruinous coal and nuclear power proposals – will muck up post-Covid-19 recovery

New coal and nuclear power proposals undermine prospects of a post-Covid-19 economic recovery, Daily Maverick, By Anton Eberhard• 17 June 2020  

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy’s attachment to ‘clean coal’ and new nuclear as immediate options for a post-Covid-19 economic recovery would be comical if they were not financially ruinous. Their fixation on these non-competitive, non-commercial technologies is now wasting scarce public resources.

South Africa is beginning to see the consequences of an energy ministry trapped in the past, beholden to interest groups and oblivious to global innovations in energy technologies and markets. Submissions by the minister and his energy department to Parliament in the past month reveal an economically disastrous commitment to policy, procurement and investment options that have no hope of contributing to our post-Covid-19 economic recovery.

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) in its strategic and economic plans is promoting the role of nuclear energy (mainly small modular reactors) and clean coal (with carbon capture and storage), but these technologies are neither price competitive nor, in the case of small nuclear, are they currently commercially available.

In a presentation to Parliament on 26 May 2020, Minister Gwede Mantashe proposed several medium-term (6-12 month) interventions in response to the economic impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. …….

In the same presentation, the minister proposed a number of interventions (also 6-12 months) to enhance electricity supply security, including acceleration of a nuclear build programme, conversion of Eskom’s diesel-fired turbines to gas and the building of a new oil refinery. None of these, of course, can be accomplished within a year and it’s highly unlikely that even contracts for these projects will be placed any time soon, if ever. Implementation of South Africa’s IRP electricity plan, which identifies wind, solar and storage as the next least-cost options to ensure electricity supply security, was evidently not regarded as a priority although – almost as an afterthought – it was offered as a long-term option.

Over the past weekend, DMRE launched a Request for Information (RFI) to commence preparations for a nuclear build programme. Of course, an RFI is non-binding (unlike a Request for Proposals, RFP, in a competitive tender or auction) and participants are perversely incentivised to put forward unrealistically attractive offers and prices which they’ll probably seek to alter when contracts are negotiated. In short, an RFI is not particularly helpful unless you don’t know what you’re doing and want technology and service providers to shape your procurement.

The minister has now appointed a new board chairperson, the retired nuclear chief officer of Eskom, an ex-British navy nuclear submariner, someone who continues, on social media, to rubbish renewable energy alternatives.

The minister has also entertained plans for expanded investment at the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA), despite the institution recording unprecedented financial losses. ……..

It’s time for a reality check. No country or private company currently offers commercially proven exports of land-based, small modular nuclear reactors. South Africa tried to develop one – the pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) – but after spending more than R20-billion (in today’s money), the programme was closed after a decade without even a pilot demonstration plant being built.  …….. Clean coal is also a mirage. …….. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-06-17-new-coal-and-nuclear-power-proposals-undermine-prospects-of-a-post-covid-19-economic-recovery/#gsc.tab=0

June 18, 2020 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Renewable energy for South Africa – cost-efficient and quick – forget coal and nuclear

Global advances in renewable energy sector should halt SA’s rush to nuclear, Let’s avoid any major financial and technological disasters such as Medupi and Kusile happening again Business Live  17 JUNE 2020 ,  COLIN WOOD  SA is once again on the cusp of another major electricity production decision. We had better get this one right. Mineral resources & energy minister Gwede Mantashe recently announced that the government is pressing ahead with a nuclear build programme for SA as early as 2024. This despite ample reported evidence that renewables, particularly solar, can be built both rapidly and cost effectively in incremental amounts up to the scale envisaged (2,500MW) to closely match any supply/demand curve.

It is therefore of some concern that those major companies in SA that have been interfacing with the renewables fraternity for their internal electricity production will respond to the one month deadline to raise reservations in a responsible manner with sound factual numbers. We certainly need to avoid any major financial and technological disasters such as Medupi and Kusile  happening again.

The coming decade looks set to become a golden one for renewables globally and could well cement their position irreversibly as the way forward for a threefold purpose: global electricity needs, containing the global temperature rise, and avoiding the drastic climate change…….

The good news is that the driver for electricity production through renewables is no longer climate change but economics. A recent announcement of the lowest competitive tariff globally for a large-scale solar PV (photovoltaic) project in Abu Dhabi certainly illustrates this. It particularly signals the resetting of economies after the Covid-19 lockdown, especially in terms of any incremental increase in the supply/demand curve  going forward.

Most significantly, the rapid construction capability of small- to large-scale renewable technologies avoids the long lead times of the large-scale fossil fuel and nuclear projects, with their difficult financial funding constraints. In addition, it shows that matching the supply/demand curve is relatively straightforward.

With favourable economics as the driver, this raises the issue of stranded assets. Increased reporting on the abandonment of coal plants has become relevant. The stranded asset value of fossil fuel electricity production, explained in a recent Cambridge Econometrics paper in Nature Climate Change, is said to be in the range $1-trillion to $4-trillion. Big numbers. …….

For SA, renewables would surely  help overcome load-shedding and the planned closure of our ageing coal fleet. However, the political opposition to significant introduction of renewables capacity (by trade unions) could well be a limitation for this route………. https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/2020-06-17-global-advances-in-renewable-energy-sector-should-halt-sas-rush-to-nuclear/

June 18, 2020 Posted by | renewable, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s environmental watchdogs warn government against new nuclear power

Environmental watchdogs against the procurement for a new nuclear power programme

Environmental watchdogs are warning Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe against a new nuclear power programme. Mantashe’s department has indicated that it will be going ahead with the procurement process for a two thousand 500 megawatt programme. The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute says going forward with the plan would be unlawful. The institute’s Francesca de Gasparis joins us from Cape Town to discuss. Courtesy #DStv403

June 16, 2020 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South African activists threaten to sue over nuclear plan

June 13, 2020 Posted by | legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear waste problem- why plan to increase it?

The nuclear option    https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/opinion/letters/2020-05-17-letter-the-nuclear-option/ 17 MAY 2020, Keith Gottschalk, It is bizarre that a government department is advocating the building of more nuclear power stations with the slogan “a no-regret option”! (“ANC government is determined to pursue nuclear at any cost”, May 12).

Try selling that slogan to the people of Fukushima and Chernobyl.

What Eskom has failed to do for the full 40 years the ageing Koeberg power station has run, is to build a permanent repository for high-level radioactive waste. .   One consequence of this failure is that Koeberg has now accumulated more than 1,000 tonnes of high-level radioactive waste within the municipal boundaries of SA’s second-largest city, Cape Town.

May 17, 2020 Posted by | South Africa, wastes | Leave a comment

Murky links between the nuclear and coal lobbies in South Africa

Anatomy of a lobby: How, and why, coal and nuclear interests are converging https://www.news24.com/SouthAfrica/News/anatomy-of-a-lobby-how-and-why-coal-and-nuclear-interests-are-converging-20200315, Sarah Evans

  The coal industry remains at the centre of the South African energy mix, with a strong push still being made to add nuclear energy into the equation. Who are the groups and individuals behind these lobby groups, and what do they want? Sarah Evans reports. 

While in South Africa, there is little proof of such an organised, funded campaign being conducted by the coal industry itself, a motley crew of intersecting interests has coalesced around common policy goals: Attempting to stop government’s policy of introducing renewable energy onto the national grid by purchasing power from Independent Power Producers (IPPs), and pushing a narrative that says that Eskom needs to keep buying coal, and that the life of its ageing power stations needs to be extended.

The narrative is also centred around the idea that government must once again pursue a large nuclear building programme, once favoured by former president Jacob Zuma, but since shelved by the Cyril Ramaphosa administration.

Many of the anti-IPP lobbyists are strongly sympathetic to the former president.

The is despite the release of the Integrated Resource Plan last year – the country’s energy roadmap – which seeks to phase out coal, gradually, over the coming decades, increase the use of renewable energy onto the grid, with a reduced role for nuclear energy.

Lobbying efforts by the industry itself have cropped up all over the world as governments are pressured to radically reduce their reliance on burning fossil fuels.

The Guardian reported last year that such a campaign had been launched on a global scale by mining giant Glencore.

But in South Africa, the campaign has taken on the face of a coalition of forces, more than an organised and well-funded propaganda effort, as far as we know.

To the one side of the anti-IPP coalition are some unions, some obscure pro-Zuma lobby groups, coal truckers and disgruntled individuals such as former acting Eskom CEO Matshela Koko.

This campaign has played out in the mainstream media, but seems to have the most traction on social media.

The campaign reached Eskom’s physical doors last week when the EFF entered the fray on the side of the lobbyists. The party took its message to the power utility in the form of a protest, flanked by nuclear energy industry lobbyists like Adil Nchabaleng of pro-Zuma lobby group Transform RSA.

On the other side of the campaign is the coal industry itself, which appears to be in the initial stages of an advocacy campaign.

Transform RSA teamed up with Numsa and the Coal Truckers Association in 2018 in a failed court bid to stop the signing of IPP agreements – a case that Nchabaleng tried to link to a break-in at his home where his housekeeper was tied up and held at gunpoint.

He is also a Member of Parliament, representing the African People’s Convention.

Transform RSA’s politics were made clear when, also in early 2018, it threatened to take legal action against the ANC’s leadership if they moved against former president Jacob Zuma by discussing his recall at a meeting.

On the social media front, the South African Energy Forum (SAEF_ZA) has been actively opposing IPPs, and has advocated for more nuclear energy in South Africa’s energy mix in a “People’s IRP” released on behalf of itself and sister organisations last year.

Another vocal advocate of nuclear energy, and of abandoning the IPP project, is Khandani Msibi, who heads up Numsa’s investment arm.

The SAEF’s members are all APC party members, with the exception of one Ronald Mumyai. His social media accounts show that he is a former EFF member, supporter of Zuma, and homophobe, although the homophobic tweet in question has since been deleted.

Another obscure entity that appears only to exist online is the Anti-Poverty Forum, which, when it is not laying complaints with the Public Protector over IPPs, spends its days campaigning against Zuma’s nemesis, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan.
The forum is fronted by ANC Brian Bunting branch member Phapano Phasha, also formerly associated with the Gupta’s failed television station ANN7, who laid a complaint against Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan with the ANC’s integrity commission last year.

Coal industry advocacy

As for the industry itself, it seems clear that many players feel coal is unfairly under attack, in the face of overwhelming scientific evidence of its contribution to climate change.

At a gathering of coal industry leaders in Cape Town in February, Minerals Council South Africa (MCSA) senior economist Bongani Motsa said there was a need for a “strong coal advocacy group” to lobby for the industry, against what it views as an onslaught from the “renewables lobby”.

Motsa likened the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) to an abusive spouse that was unkind to the industry, in spite of its willingness to invest in “clean coal” technologies.

Motsa did not provide any details as to what this would look like.

In February 2018, when heated talks over the IRP were ongoing behind closed doors at Nedlac, the MSCA released a document titled “Coal Strategy 2018” in which it outlined plans to counter the narrative around coal.

The plan’s executive summary states: “The Chamber of Mines Coal Leadership Forum, consisting of coal executives, commissioned a report to determine what needs to be done to increase the profile of the coal mining industry in the face of seemingly ineluctable negative public opinion around the use of coal in industrial processes. Negative views on coal and its impact on the environment have resulted in a precipitous decline in the use of coal by the major economies of the world…”

The plan decried the introduction of strict laws to protect the environment that would stifle the coal industry, and implied that the industry’s contribution to the economy and jobs needed to be punted in public.

For now, the links between the pro-coal, anti-IPP actors are murky. But what is clear is that their interests align around policy and political goals, and it remains to be seen whether they carry enough weight to have real impact on either front.

March 16, 2020 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Eskom nuclear troubles – the outcome of years of corruption

March 16, 2020 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Strange turnaround for South Africa’s EFF leader Julius Malema – nuclear best for blacks, renewables for white elites??

Malema goes nuclear on Eskom’s future, Daily Maverick, By Ferial Haffajee• 1 March 2020   Twice in the past month, EFF leader Julius Malema has used high-profile platforms to bat for nuclear energy as a key plank of South Africa’s energy planning. It’s a clear U-turn for the populist leader who was for years vehemently opposed to Zuma’s proposed nuclear deal with Russia.

On Friday, capping a march of thousands of supporters to the Eskom HQ, EFF leader Julius Malema handed over a memorandum to CEO Andre de Ruyter.

In it, he stated a demand he had first made in February in his debate on the state of the nation:

“Eskom should build nuclear power stations using a build, operate and transfer model with a clear illustration of how the private sector will use their money, operate them for an agreed period, transfer operation and maintenance skills to state-employed engineers, artisans, electricians and other skills needed to operate a nuclear power station.”

In his speech in the pouring rain outside Eskom, Malema did not mention nuclear energy, but it is a prominent part of the three-page memorandum, now in Eskom’s hands.

The red sea of EFF marchers who marched for nine kilometres from the Innes Free Park to Megawatt Park signals that Malema and the EFF have entered the energy battle as key protagonists. He appears to now be the political leader of a loose coalition of interests pushing for nuclear energy procurement, the maintenance of coal as a key feedstock for the national grid as well as a slowdown in the pace of renewable energy production.

This places Malema in clear opposition to the “green revolution” pledged by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his 2019 State of the Nation Address and the much larger role for the private sector in energy production outlined by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni in #Budget2020 last week. ….

Nuclear — the black option?

Malema and his deputy president Floyd Shivambu have been long-term opponents of independent power producers selling renewable energy in bid windows opened by Eskom.

There is a growing view across the EFF and sections of the ANC that nuclear is a “black option” for energy professionals who want in on a new market while “renewable energy” is dominated by white capital, in South Africa’s race short-hand.

The reason for this is that the first bid windows featured many European and US multinational companies making a gambit for some of what were then the biggest renewable energy deals in the developing South and also among the most expensive.

Malema’s audacious Eskom march on Friday also revealed a new political front opening up in the energy wars. The EFF aligned with Transform RSA, the movement led by nuclear energy proponent Adil Nchabeleng who is the most prolific and powerful mover behind the lobby opposing renewable energy procurement by Eskom. Nchabeleng was on the EFF stage on Friday; he is also well regarded in the ANC…….

Rosatom, the Russian nuclear agency, uses a build, operate and transfer model across the continent where it has enjoyed great success in getting deals from African leaders.

In addition, it also provides the start-up capital for nuclear power stations in vendor financing deals. Rosatom was close to signing an estimated R1-trillion deal which was strongly punted by former president Jacob Zuma who fired two finance ministers for slow-footing his nuclear ambitions. The company is still hoping South Africa will see the light on energy.

Zuma almost achieved the deal with Russia, but it was stopped in court when Judge Lee Bozalek in April 2017 ruled in favour of the case brought by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) against government’s plans to build a fleet of nuclear power stations.

In 2016, Malema set his stall against the nuclear deal. …..

SA’s IRP downgrades nuclear

The pro-nuclear lobby has lost governing party political influence in South Africa – the integrated resource plan launched by Mineral Resources and Energy minister Gwede Mantashe in late 2019 suggested a limited role for nuclear in the future.

It now appears to have powerful new friends in the EFF which has switched its opposition to nuclear power to active support.

While the pro-nuclear, anti-renewables energy lobby says the costs of nuclear are more competitive, the cost of water, solar and other power is steadily coming down. Coal-fired power stations are also quickly losing investor interest as financiers turn away from fossil fuels.

Daily Maverick approached two EFF spokespersons for comment, but did not get a response. DM https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2020-03-01-malena-goes-nuclear-on-eskoms-future/

March 5, 2020 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Algeria’s radioactive legacy from France’s nuclear bomb tests

Algeria: 60 years on, French nuclear tests leave bitter fallout https://www.dw.com/en/algeria-60-years-on-french-nuclear-tests-leave-bitter-fallout/a-5235435113.02.2020, Author Elizabeth Bryant (Paris)

Decades after the first French nuclear test in Algeria, thousands of victims are still waiting for compensation from the government. Why is France dragging its feet over the issue?

Jean-Claude Hervieux still remembers joining a crowd of soldiers and high-level officials in Algeria’s Sahara desert to witness one of France’s first nuclear tests. Things didn’t go exactly as planned.

Instead of being contained underground, radioactive dust and rock escaped into the atmosphere. Everyone ran, including two French ministers. At military barracks, the group showered and had their radiation levels checked as a crude means of decontamination. “You don’t see nude ministers very often,” Hervieux chuckled.

But as France marks the 60th anniversary of its first nuclear test — near Algeria’s border with Mauritania, on February 13, 1960 — there is not much to laugh about. Critics have long claimed more than three decades of nuclear testing may have left many victims, first in Algeria and later in French Polynesia, where the bulk of testing took place.

But so far, only hundreds have been compensated, including just one Algerian. And as key nuclear testing anniversaries tick by, the unresolved fallout of the nuclear explosions has also fed into longstanding tensions between Paris and its former colony.

It is part of the whole issue of decolonization, and of Algerians asking for French recognition of crimes committed” as a colonial power, said Brahim Oumansour, North African analyst for the Paris-based French Institute of International Relations. For France, he added, doing so might mean “financial compensations in the millions of euros.”

Such issues are off the French government’s current public radar. A major nuclear policy speech last week by President Emmanuel Macron made no mention of them. France’s compensation commission says it has responded to claims that meet criteria set out by law.

The French Defense Ministry and Algerian authorities did not respond to questions about the tests.

A former electrician, Hervieux spent a decade working on the French nuclear tests, first in Algeria and later in French Polynesia. The botched Beryl explosion he witnessed in May 1962 took place two months after Algeria’s independence from France. The desert testing would continue for another four years, thanks to an agreement Paris secured with Algiers. “The showers cleaned our bodies and clothes,” Hervieux said of the Beryl incident, “but not what we breathed in or swallowed.”

Hervieux asked French authorities for the results of his radiation tests. They were bizarre, he said. One claimed to have screened him when he was on vacation; another named his father. He was told yet another had been destroyed on grounds it was contaminated.

Buried everything

Altogether, Paris exploded more than 200 nuclear devices. Most were in remote atolls of French Polynesia, but the first 17 took place in Algeria’s desert. In 1996, French President President Jacques Chirac called a halt to the testing.

When we left Algeria, we dug large holes and we buried everything,” said Hervieux, now 80, of France’s departure from the desert sites, in 1966.

He later joined AVEN, a pressure group for victims of French nuclear tests, although he says he remains healthy.

While he did not witness ill effects in Algeria, Hervieux describes visiting a village in French Polynesia where high radiation levels had been detected. “A local teacher said children were sick and vomiting,” he recalled. “Mothers were asking why their children’s hair was falling out.”

In Algeria, testing sites are still contaminated, activists say, many fenced off by only barbed wire, at best. “I saw radiation levels emitted from minerals, rocks vitrified by the bombs’ heat, which are colossal,” said retired French physicist Roland Desbordes, who has visited the sites. “These aren’t sites buried in the corner of the desert — they’re frequently visited by Algerian nomads,” who recuperate copper and other metals from the detritus.

Indelible scar?

The former president and now spokesman for CRIIRAD, an independent French research group on atomic safety, Desbordes claims the French army has key classified information about the testing it will not open to public scrutiny, including about the health and environmental effects of the explosions. But he believes Algerian authorities also bear some blame.

Each anniversary they talk about how these nuclear tests were not good,” he said, “but it’s also up to them to close off the sites to ensure nobody can access them.”

Reports, including a pair of decade-old documentaries by Algerian reporter Larbi Benchiha, suggest the testing left an indelible scar on local communities. Unaware of the danger, they collected once-buried scrap metal uncovered by desert winds, and turned them into jewelry and kitchen utensils.

Altogether, between 27,000 to 60,000 people from communities surrounding the test sites were affected, according to one Al Jazeera report, citing differing French and Algerian estimates.

But out of more than 1,600 claims filed under a decade-old French compensation law that finally acknowledged health problems from the tests, only 51 have come from Algeria, according to France’s nuclear compensation commission, CIVEN. A separate Supreme Court ruling recently reinstated two extra compensation claims from French Polynesia.

Among other criteria, the 2010 law requires proof of a minimum level of exposure to weapons tests, and offers a list of 23 types of cancers that qualify for compensation.

“There are very few demands and we can only judge those we receive,” said CIVEN Director Ludovic Gerin, who added the Algerian claims didn’t meet compensation criteria.

“We can’t actively search for victims,” he added, “so we’re a bit blocked.”

February 15, 2020 Posted by | AFRICA, France, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Vast swarm of locusts ruining the livelihood of 1000s in East Africa

Locust swarm 37 miles long and 25 miles wide threatens crops across swathes of east Africa, ITV News, 17 Jan 2020, A swarm of locusts measured at 37 miles long and 25 miles wide has been tracked in Kenya – and the insects are now threatening to decimate crops across swatches of east Africa.

The most serious outbreak of desert locusts in 25 years is posing an unprecedented threat to food security in some of the world’s most vulnerable countries, authorities say.

Unusual climate conditions are partly to blame.

Kenya’s Intergovernmental Authority on Development said: “A typical desert locust swarm can contain up to 150 million locusts per square kilometre.

“Swarms migrate with the wind and can cover 100 to 150 kilometres in a day. An average swarm can destroy as much food crops in a day as is sufficient to feed 2,500 people.”

Roughly the length of a finger, the insects fly together by the millions and are devouring crops and forcing people in some areas to bodily wade through them.

The outbreak of desert locusts, considered the most dangerous locust species, also has affected parts of Somalia, Ethiopia, Sudan, Djibouti and Eritrea and IGAD warns that parts of South Sudan and Uganda could be next.

The “extremely dangerous” outbreak is making the region’s bad food security situation worse, the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organisation has warned.

Hundreds of thousands of acres of crops have been destroyed…….  https://www.itv.com/news/2020-01-17/locust-swarm-37-miles-long-and-25-miles-wide-threatens-crops-across-swathes-of-east-africa/?fbclid=IwAR1cn3AzYPruUHLGk_0dgXtQvDvh9bjrehBk7AeCTXeru2AjLKdlmmrYz_g

January 21, 2020 Posted by | climate change, environment, Kenya | Leave a comment

Nuclear energy for Uganda – a bad option

January 11, 2020 Posted by | AFRICA, politics | Leave a comment

Hazards of Russia’s nuclear colonialism- example South Africa

costly projects such as the one pushed by Zuma typically make little economic sense for the purchasing country
heavily subsidized projects pursued mainly for geopolitical reasons risk saddling Russia’s nuclear power monopoly Rosatom with burdens it can ill afford.
Nuclear Enrichment: Russia’s Ill-Fated Influence Campaign in South Africa, Russia squandered close ties with the South African government by overplaying its hand and getting caught up in a corrupt nuclear energy pact. Carnegie Endowment For International Peace  (thoroughly researched and referenced) 16 Dec 19,

SUMMARY

Amid the widespread attention the Kremlin’s recent inroads in Africa have attracted, there has been surprisingly little discussion of South Africa, a country which, for nearly a decade, unquestionably represented Russia’s biggest foreign policy success story on the continent. As relations soared during the ill-starred presidency of Jacob Zuma (2009–2018), the Kremlin sought to wrest a geopolitically significant state out of the West’s orbit and to create a partnership that could serve as a springboard for expanded influence elsewhere in Africa. Continue reading

December 17, 2019 Posted by | marketing, politics international, Russia, South Africa | 1 Comment

South Africa to create extra space for nuclear waste

Business Times, WED, NOV 27, 2019 [JOHANNESBURG] Radioactive waste storage facilities at South Africa’s nuclear power station Koeberg will fill up next year, the power utility Eskom said Tuesday, adding it has begun creating extra space.

South Africa is the only country on the continent with a civilian nuclear industry, and its two reactors have been in service for more than 30 years.

The Koeberg nuclear power plant, located outside Cape Town, produces 1,860 megawatts contributing about four percent of the national power output.

Eskom in a statement that its “spent fuel pools are essentially full in 2020 and for this reason a project was initiated to create additional space”…….

Koeberg was originally set to be mothballed in 2024, four decades after its inception, but it is being upgraded and it is now expected to operate until 2044.

Environmental campaigners have warned against the nuclear project.

“It is incredibly short-sighted for the government to pursue extending Koeberg’s lifespan, potentially at the expense of our safety,” Melita Steele, Greenpeace Africa’s Climate and Energy Campaign Manager said Tuesday.

“Not only are South Africans going to have to fork out more money for more storage for high-level radioactive waste, but there is also no long-term solution for this waste, which can remain radioactive for hundreds of thousands of years,” Ms Steele said.

Currently, 90 per cent of the country’s electricity is generated from coal-fired stations.

The government last year dropped controversial plans to build new nuclear power stations, deals that had been initiated by former leader Jacob Zuma and that could have bankrupted the country to enrich his allies. https://www.businesstimes.com.sg/energy-commodities/south-africa-to-create-extra-space-for-nuclear-waste

November 28, 2019 Posted by | South Africa, wastes | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear waste storage almost completely full; a dangerous situation

Waste storage at Africa’s only nuclear plant brimming, Channel News Asia, 25 Nov 19, CAPE TOWN: Spent fuel storage at South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear plant will reach full capacity by April as state power utility Eskom awaits regulatory approval for new dry storage casks, the company said on Monday (Nov 25).

Storage of high-level radioactive waste is a major environmental concern in the region, as South Africa looks to extend Koeberg’s life for another two decades and mulls extra nuclear power plants.

Koeberg, Africa’s only nuclear facility, is situated about 35km from Cape Town and was connected to the grid in the 1980s under apartheid.

“The Koeberg spent fuel pool storage capacity is currently over 90 per cent full. (These) pools will reach (their) capacity by April 2020,” Eskom told Reuters in a statement.

Koeberg produces about 32 tonnes of spent fuel a year. Fuel assemblies, which contain radioactive materials including uranium and plutonium that can remain dangerous for thousands of years, are cooled for a decade under water in spent fuel pools….

Anti-nuclear lobby group Earthlife Africa said South Africa could not afford the social, environmental and economic costs associated with nuclear waste.

“We have a ticking bomb with high-level waste and fuel rods at Koeberg,” said Makoma Lekalakala, Earthlife Africa’s director.   https://www.channelnewsasia.com/news/world/waste-storage-at-africa-s-only-nuclear-plant-brimming-12123664  brimming-12123664

November 26, 2019 Posted by | South Africa, wastes | Leave a comment