The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Critical documents missing – secrecy in South Africa’s nuclear negotiations

secret-dealsflag-S.AfricaJoemat-Pettersson to be quizzed on missing nuclear documents, Engineering News, Creamer Media,  
19TH AUGUST 2016 Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Petterssonwill be asked in Parliament next week to account for missing documents in a court case regarding the nuclear energy programme.

That is according to Democratic Alliance (DA) MP and shadow energy minister Gordon Mackay on Thursday, who sits on the energy portfolio committee in Parliament. He was responding to a claim on Thursday that government failed to disclose about ten documents in justifying its decision to enter into an intergovernmental agreement withRussia.

The claim was made by Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) and Earthlife AfricaJohannesburg (ELA), who are challenging government in court to prove this nuclear agreement was not in fact a done deal.

Government wants to build about eight nuclear reactors to add 9.6GW of baseload energy in its drive to boost industrialisation in South AfricaHowever, many economists and pro-renewable energy advocates believe it is too expensive and unnecessary for South Africa, with some suggesting it would result in rating agencies downgrading the country to junk status.

“Parliamentary committees recommence next week and the DA will be asking the minister to account for the missing documents,” Mackay told Fin24.

“The DA remains deeply perturbed by the state’s lack of compliance in this case,” he said.

ELA’s Dominque Doyle said government continues to promise a fair and accountable process of nuclearprocurement, but its deeds do not live up to its promises.

“We need answers,” said Doyle. “Parliament should hold government accountable in a transparent manner.”

“Getting information out of government has been like pulling teeth,” said Safcei spokesperson Liz McDaid. “The case has been drawn out since October 2015, with government reluctant to provide the information necessary for a fair hearing.”

No nuclear deal, says minister

However, on Wednesday Joemat-Pettersson emphasised that there is no “nuclear deal”…….

Safcei and ELA said it was picked up that documents were missing while their legal team was reviewing a 700-page responding affidavit from government.

“Detailed analysis reveals the government has failed to disclose at least ten documents to which it refers when justifying its decisions to enter into a nuclear deal withRussia,”  it claimed on Thursday.

On August 4, they sent the department a letter requesting the missing documents, “as they are clearly relevant to the case … and we are still awaiting a response”.

The missing documents include:

1. The proposal to cabinet that the minister signed off for the roll-out of the new nuclear power plants;

2. The Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review by the  International Atomic Energy Agency;

3. The terms of reference for the National Nuclear EnergyExecutive Coordinating Committee;

4. The communication and stakeholder engagement strategy;

5. The phased decision making approach for implementing the nuclear programme ;

6. The designation of Eskom as the owner and operator ofnuclear power plants in South Africa;

7. The 2004 Bilateral International Agreement with the Russian Federation;

8. The May 2013 agreement between Russia and South Africasigned during the Brics summit meeting in Durban;

9. The invitation to attend vendor parade workshops sent to the Republic of Korea, the United States of America, the Russian Federation, the French Republic, the People’s Republic of China, Canada and the Kingdom of Japan; and

10. The list of topics each vendor country was requested to address relating to the invitation referred to in the previous point.

August 19, 2016 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Drone crash into Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

drone-near-nuclear-plantDRONE CRASHES INTO KOEBERG NUCLEAR POWER STATION  An small unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV) – commonly known as drones – has crashed into the nuclear power station at Koeberg near Cape Town.

While it appears that no damage was done, South Africa’s drone regulations are clear: you are not allowed to fly drones over roads and you keep them at least 50 meters away from buildings.

According to Eskom, the drone not only flew towards and over Koeberg, but crashed into a building on site. Surprisingly, Eskom says that the drone pilot had his UAV returned to him after the incident.

“A drone crashed on the Koeberg site in contravention of the nuclear safety regulations and was returned to its owner without the investigation having been completed,” the parastatal said in a statement.

Eskom says that it has subsequently suspended the Koeberg safety officer as a precautionary measure ahead of an investigation. It also highlighted the dangers of flying drones close to government installations.

 “The matter has also been reported to the SAPS as Koeberg is a National Key Point,” it said. Eskom also revealed yesterday that it has suspended the Koeberg power station manager and the plant manager for an unrelated incident.

“Eskom has placed the Koeberg power station manager and the plant manager on precautionary suspension as a result of the distribution of documentation containing unauthorised facts and assumptions relating to Koeberg’s Production Plan and in particular, the steam generator replacement,” it said.

Eskom is this week facing strike action by 15 000 National Union of Mineworkers (NUM) members. In essence, it is illegal for any Eskom employees to strike, and NUM is protesting this.

“The decision to strike was taken at an urgent NUM Eskom national shop stewards council held at the NUM head office today. All 15 000 members of the NUM at Eskom will be fighting for the restoration of the right to strike at Eskom,” NUM said in a statement.

August 13, 2016 Posted by | incidents, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa at the crossroads – clean economic renewable energy or dirty uranium nuclear industry?


by  on August 2, 2016 In July we were excited to receive the news of a large-scale withdrawal of the uranium mining developers Australian Tasman Pacific Minerals Limited and Lukisa JVCo in the Karoo.

On 6 July they announced that they would withdraw their current uranium mining application and reapply for a much smaller area – in essence only 12% of the original application – and start the process at the beginning again. This we celebrated as an important step towards stopping uranium mining in its tracks, as well as nuclear down the line.

For, as Dr Stefan Cramer, who was instrumental in lifting the veil of silence on this new threat to the Karoo, points out, uranium mining is the dirty underbelly of the nuclear industry and where it all begins.

One must stop nuclear industries in (their) tracks because it leaves future generations with an immeasurable task and legacy. The best point to start is at the source, where the whole cycle of nuclear technology begins, and that is at uranium mining. Uranium mining is very much the dirtiest part of the entire industry,” he says.

Kim Kruyshaar writes on Green Audits that choosing between renewable energy and nuclear is about much more than just an energy option. Instead it is “a choice between two divergent socio-economic opportunities and the consequent legacies.” This rings even more true when one looks at the building blocks of nuclear energy.

Uranium mining will leave us with our iconic Karoo damaged for centuries to come and many people without a future or income as the jobs gained through uranium mining would in no way compensate for those lost in the agricultural, tourism and renewable industry businesses.

Mining will also deplete the already scarce water reserves of the Karoo and present serious health problems to all living beings there, as the radioactive dust can be carried for kilometres by winds.

Renewable energy in contrast presents us with a far brighter future that, very importantly, doesn’t contain a radioactive legacy. Far more jobs are created in the renewable energy industry than the nuclear industry ever can.

The speed in which renewable energy projects can be installed and the lower investment costs also make it highly attractive to a country like South Africa, where many people need access to energy now, not in 15 years time when a nuclear reactor would only come online.

Decentralising the power from Eskom and putting it into the hands of individuals and local companies would also only serve to empower South Africans and the economy. Nuclear energy would instead indebt us and future generations to a foreign company and leave us with the further enormous cost of decommissioning.

So it’s not simply a choice between two energy options, as Kim sums it up, it is a choice about what path we would like to take South Africa down.

What is needed to stop uranium mining and nuclear for good?

August 13, 2016 Posted by | environment, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Clever payment systems, such as Oxfam’s plan, could revolutionise Zimbabwe with decentralised solar energy

Affordable solar schemes light way to energy for all in Zimbabwe BY TONDERAYI MUKEREDZI HARARE (Thomson Reuters Foundation) Aug 8, 2016 – Innovative ways to pay for solar power systems could make clean energy affordable for many of Zimbabwe’s 1.5 million households that lack electricity, campaigners say. Zimbabwe produces only around 60 percent of the electricity it needs when demand is highest, and relies on costly imports to make up some of the shortage, particularly when drought hits hydropower facilities, as happened this year.

That means solar panels and other clean energy sources not connected to the southern African nation’s power grid are likely the cheapest and fastest way to bring electricity to those without it, say sustainable energy experts. “Only focusing on grid extension and increasing generation capacity will not allow us to attain energy access for all by 2030,” said Chiedza Maizaiwana, manager of the Power for All Zimbabwe Campaign.

To meet the internationally agreed goal, so-called “decentralised” renewable energy is “a critically needed solution”, she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation. “It is imperative that we create the opportunity for families and businesses to access (these) services rapidly and affordably,” she said.

Getting connected to the grid in a rural area can cost thousands of dollars, a huge obstacle when many people earn between $20 and $100 a month, said Ngaatendwe Murimba, a program officer for Ruzivo Trust, a non-governmental organization (NGO) working to improve rural energy access.

But families without electricity do pay for energy, buying firewood or charcoal – which drive deforestation – batteries, or polluting fuels such as paraffin……..

text-community-energyJonathan Njerere, head of programs in Zimbabwe for charity Oxfam, said that in Gutu district, 230 km east of Harare, his organization and others had helped set up a community-owned, self-financing solar energy scheme.

It has enabled more than 270 farmers to irrigate about 16 hectares (39.5 acres) of crops.

Oxfam gave the community solar equipment for irrigation and an initial batch of solar lanterns, which were sold to members. The proceeds were pooled in a savings and lending scheme, allowing others to join and buy solar products for home and business use.

Community funds are used to purchase solar equipment for sale to the public through energy kiosks, and the revenue is kept for repairs and relief in natural disasters.

Njerere said the program, assisted by 2 million euros ($2.22 million) from the European Union, had helped chicken farms, fisheries, tailors and shopkeepers acquire hire-purchase solar panels, so they can work in the evening as well as during the day.

Other entrepreneurs use the solar panels to sell mobile phone charging services for $0.20 a time………

Providing subsidized solar equipment would hugely improve uptake, Ruzivo Trust’s Murimba said. Communities are asking for free installation of solar systems, zero taxes on solar equipment, and government-accredited dealers who can provide them with quality solar equipment and technical support, he added.

One local company had to discontinue a popular package including a mobile phone and a $45 solar lamp. It sold some 400,000 lights to around a third of the country’s households, but they were poor quality, and many developed problems with no mechanism for repair or return.

In Harare, vegetable vendor Regina Meki, 40, uses a solar lamp she bought on credit to hawk her wares well into the night. Under a payment plan offered by a local solar company, she pays $1 a day for the $50 rented lamp, which has helped boost her monthly earnings from $70 to $120. “Solar energy has brought nothing but happiness to me, increasing my income. Besides payment for the equipment was easy on the pocket,” she said.

August 10, 2016 Posted by | AFRICA, decentralised | Leave a comment

UK-Australian and French uranium companies polluting the “unpolluted” African States

uranium-oreUranium from Russia, with love, Ecologist, Nick Meynen 4th August, 2016

“………..the bigger issue should be that uranium mining is just a very dirty business that we didn’t clean up but source out. France used to have 200+ uranium mines but thanks to better care for environment and workers the last one closed in 2001. Instead, new ones were opened in places like NigerNamibia and Malawi. In short: places where we can shift the real costs from uranium mining to the people and environment. As a matter of fact, CEOs in the business are quite frank about that. The former CEO of Paladin, John Borshoff, an Australian uranium producer who opened mines in Namibia, said that Canadian and Australian environmental norms are “over-sophisticated“. What he actually means is that in African countries you don’t need to pay much or anything at all to “protect” either your workers or the people living in the vicinity from dying from cancer due to exposure to uranium.

He’s just implementing the Lawrence Summers Principle. This ‘principle’ originates from a 1991 memo written or dictated by Summers whilst he was the World Bank’s chief economist. In this memo, he promoted dumping toxic waste in the Third World for economic reasons: “Just between you and me, shouldn’t the World Bank be encouraging more migration of the dirty industries to the LDCs [Least Developed Countries]? […] A given amount of health impairing pollution should be done in the country with the lowest cost, which will be the country with the lowest wages. I think the economic logic behind dumping a load of toxic waste in the lowest wage country is impeccable and we should face up to that.”

The uranium sector squared up to that. But for how much longer will it get away with that?

Last time rebels in Mali came too close to the AREVA mines in Niger for comfort, France suddenly sent in their army. Under some humanitarian pretext. And if rebels don’t succeed in capturing these remote mines, the global environmental justice movement might just succeed in closing a couple of them down.

The legacy from uranium mining

Being part of that movement, I’ve had the ‘pleasure’ of making a toxic tour around a now closed uranium mine in Bulgaria. Massive amounts of toxic sludge were stored behind a weak dam that showed signs of distress after heavy rains caused a spill in 2009. Old EU money was still keeping the dam up but as we’re talking about radioactive waste, money will need to keep flowing to dam repairs for millennia to come.

Since 1992, when the mines closed, and for time immemorial, that will be public money. And that’s how it goes with uranium mines in places with weak or no legislation: short-term private profits followed by perpetual public losses. In Bulgaria the people are still lucky enough to be in the EU with at least some environmental regulations and EU money for environmental protections. The same goes for other EU countries like France, which has dozens of zombie mines: dead but still active. The US also has plenty more zombie mines. The lands of the Navajo Nation include over 500 abandoned uranium mines (AUMs) as well as homes and drinking water sources with elevated levels of radiation. Despite the fact that they stopped operating in 1986, new and related lung cancers, bone cancers and impaired kidney functions keep appearing.

But while EU and US now have enough safeguards to keep their own uranium safe under the ground, there’s nothing of that in Namibia or Niger. These two countries are rising players on the uranium market, both exporting their uranium to the EU. Niger has now produced more uranium than France ever did in it’s whole history. It’s here that UK-Australian and French companies are doing the dirty digging that destroys local environment and populace.

Three reports from the EU-funded EJOLT project deal with the environmental and social issues related to uranium mining. One deals with the impacts, one concentrates on a mine in Malawi and the third dwells on the examples of successful resistance to big mining in general.

Bruno Chareyron, a French nuclear engineer who authored most of these reports, has been carrying out toxic tours along uranium mines for the last two decades. That’s not always an easy job, with for example the police confiscating most of your measuring equipment upon arrival in Niger. Nevertheless, Bruno was able to measure that radioactive scrap metal from the mines and mills is sold on the market. Waste rocks from the mines were used to pave roads, build homes and even at the local hospital where the radiation was 100 times above normal. Piles of radioactive waste were left in open air, unprotected, next to two cities with a total population of 120.000.

The missing piece of the puzzle

Where is uranium in the whole debate about nuclear energy? It’s usually only mentioned when the industry says: uranium is only a tiny part of the total cost of our energy model, unlike the situation in the gas and oil industry.

Well, there’s a reason why it’s only a tiny part of the total cost and it’s called cost shifting.

Ecological economists have given names to processes witnessed in the uranium sector:accumulation by contaminationecologically unequal exchange and ecological debt. More and more, people all over the world are coming together to resist against environmental justice.

Our EU and US based nuclear power is currently coming at the cost of poisoning people in Africa. But it begs the question: are we ready to face that reality?

This Author:

Nick Meynen is one of The Ecologist New Voices contributors. He writes blogs and books on topics like environmental justice, globalization and human-nature relationships.

When not wandering in the activist universe or his Facebook page
is dead, he’s probably walking in nature.   


August 5, 2016 Posted by | environment, Malawi, Namibia, Niger, Nigeria, politics international, Reference, Uranium | Leave a comment

Nuclear enthusiast Bill Gates again trashing renewable energy

Gates'-travelling-Wave-NuclBill Gates Again Dismisses Solar’s Value In Africa, Clean Technica July 22nd, 2016 by  Bill Gates, delivering the 14th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture on the eve of Mandela Day, has again dismissed the potential global role of solar, and in particular the value it could have in solving energy crises in Africa.

In the long run, what Africa needs is what the whole world needs: a breakthrough energy miracle that provides cheap, clean energy for everyone,” Gates said on the 17th. However, Gates doesn’t believe that that breakthrough has been made in the form of solar.

In an interview with Tech Insider earlier this year in February, which saw the billionaire philanthropist discuss the need to bring electricity to the millions who do not yet have access to reliable grid-provided energy, Bill Gates dismissed the role of solar. Gates discussed the need for an “energy miracle” then as well. “You might say, well, aren’t people saying that about wind and solar today? Not really. Only in the super-narrow sense that the capital costs per output, when the wind is blowing, is slightly lower.”

Gates continued, saying that the reason solar and wind “still needs subsidies, and it can’t go above a certain percentage, is this intermittency — it changes the economics, particularly the requirement that the power company at all times be able to require power.”

Speaking last Sunday as he delivered the 14th Nelson Mandela Annual Lecture, Gates again dismissed the role of solar in bringing electricity to the millions throughout Africa who are without reliable access to electricity……

What’s disappointing is that, at every step along Bill Gates’ arguments, we find reason to disagree with his increasingly-outdated points of view. Integrating energy storage with wind and solar generation mitigates much of the intermittency concerns, while reliance upon fossil fuels such as coal in Africa rely on massive levels of infrastructure — infrastructure which simply doesn’t exist, and would cost billions to develop, in excess of the cost of developing large-scale renewable energy deployment. Already the levelized cost of electricity (LCoE) has seen to be decreasing for both solar and onshore wind, and in some parts of the world are already cost competitive with existing fossil fuel energy sources.

Bill Gates isn’t unable to access this information, so what’s driving his seeming intentional ignorance towards the potential benefits of renewable energy, and solar energy in particular, for providing widespread electricity throughout Africa?

August 1, 2016 Posted by | AFRICA, renewable | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear company Eskom urging government to freeze renewable energy program

propagandaIs Eskom building a case for nuclear power?, Business Day Live,   BY SALIEM FAKIR  JULY 28 2016, IT IS disconcerting that Eskom is advising the government to freeze a globally acclaimed renewable energy programme based on a perceived misunderstanding of the benefits of the renewable energy independent power producer (IPP) programme.

Eskom has justified its recent announcement not to sign further power purchase agreements with independent power producers with reasons that range from questions about the need for additional renewables and baseload IPPs, to improved operating performance, its large-scale new build programme, and protecting consumers from higher prices by not buying additional capacity.

Yet, the renewable energy programme is regarded as highly successful, and it delivers a wide range of benefits at the best prices given that it is a buyer’s market.

Eskom’s own 2016 financial report states that wind and solar are now cheaper than coal-generated electricity. The Treasury has stated that 92 renewable energy programme projects have attracted R193bn in private sector investment, totalling a contribution of 6,327 MW of capacity to the national grid. The total projected value of goods and services to be procured from broad-based black economic empowerment suppliers is put at more than R101bn.

Investment in renewables accounted for 85.8% of total direct foreign investment in SA in 2014. A Council for Scientific and Industrial Research report revealed that wind energy produced net savings of R1.8bn in the first half of 2015 and was also cash positive for Eskom by R300m.

The net savings can be attributed to avoiding diesel and coal fuel costs, as well as the economic costs of load shedding. Renewable energy in total generated a net benefit for the economy of up to R4bn. Renewable energy production has cut 4.4m tonnes of carbon dioxide.

At a policy level, the government has indicated that renewable energy has to be ramped up. The country’s energy vision and the National Development Plan call for a greater mix of energy sources and a greater diversity of IPPs in the energy industry, with the 2010 Integrated Resource Plan’s vision calling for 17,800 MW of renewable energy to be in place by 2030.

Internationally, SA is a signatory to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) global climate change agreement to keep planet emissions beneath 1.5°C by honouring carbon emissions reduction targets.

Legally speaking, Eskom is a buyer of electricity, with the Department of Energy procuring capacity in line with ministerial determinations. The government’s commitment has been laudable. It is worrying that Eskom seems to wish to erode this………..

It seems Eskom is building a case for nuclear and this is the real reason behind the freeze on further renewable procurement. There is no guarantee that the proposed large nuclear new build programme will be cheap, considering that Medupi and Kusile are proving to be more expensive than some renewables. We would urge pragmatism and prudence on their part.

• Fakir is the head of the policy and futures unit with the World Wide Fund for Nature in SA.

July 29, 2016 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Pro nuclear propaganda revs up in South Africa

propagandaWhy Eskom’s Brian Molefe is pumping up the nuclear propaganda
The issue of relative costs is an area in which Eskom likes to play fast and loose with facts. Molefe, for instance, loves to talk about the relative cheapness of nuclear power Rand Daily mail CAROL PATON
26 JULY 2016 “……..
As Eskom prepares to roll back the rise of independent power producers (IPPs) and lay the basis for the nuclear build, the propaganda war is going to be critical. This is because, on the facts alone, Eskom’s central argument — that SA’s energy future is a straight choice between variable and unreliable renewables and reliable base load nuclear — is nonsense.

What SA needs to do to break Eskom’s stranglehold

Even before Eskom’s letter to Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson drawing the line under the IPP programme surfaced last week, Molefe and Eskom’s head of generation, Matshela Koko, have been pushing this line. As SA can’t have more coal plants because of its commitments to reduce emissions, and as renewable energy is available during the day, when it’s not really required, the only solution lies with nuclear power.

This is a misrepresentation of the choices available. A great deal of technical work and international experience has shown that the next round of large investments SA should be making should be in gas. Unlike renewable energy, nuclear energy or a coal-fired power station, gas can be switched on and off to provide peaking power. The turbines need to turn only when you need them. With large discoveries in Mozambique, investing in gas is the logical next step. The CSIR has done detailed work on this and has put forward a third option to the baseload debate: to use gas and renewables — now by far the cheapest — in concert to create baseload power.

The issue of the relative costs of the technologies is another area in which Eskom likes to play fast and loose with the facts. Molefe, for instance, loves to talk about the relative cheapness of nuclear power. Koeberg — built in 1985 and long since paid for — supplies energy at R0.43/kWh. This should be compared with solar thermal power — the only renewable energy technology that can store energy — he says, the cost of which ranges between R2/kWh and R6/kWh. It’s a ridiculous comparison. In the absence of an agreed-on and updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) that would provide an authoritative view on the relative costs of the technologies, the CSIR’s Energy Centre calculated the following in 2015: new nuclear power is projected to cost at least R1/kWh, but very likely more; new coal R0.80/kWh — it is now much higher at about R1; wind R0.60/kWh and solar R0.80/kWh.

A new draft of the IRP by Eskom’s technical modellers — that has been sent back to the drawing board by the Department of Energy — has suggested that the overnight cost (capital cost excluding interest) of building new nuclear power would be $6 000/kW. The department reckoned on about $4 166/kW.

These are not numbers Eskom is likely to use in the public debate.  Eskom, in particular Molefe, has a talent for spinning a good story. After less than five months in the job, he made the startling and completely untrue statement that Eskom’s plant performance had improved vastly. At that point, Eskom’s plant performance was still in decline. More recently, in May, he insisted at a news conference in Parliament that Eskom’s ability to meet demand had nothing to do with lower-than-anticipated demand. This too, turned out not to be true, with Eskom’s own demand curve showing real decline over 2015.

These are perhaps minor skirmishes with the truth. But getting the nuclear build on track is a far bigger fight. Expect Eskom to pump up the propaganda war. — Business Day

July 28, 2016 Posted by | South Africa, spinbuster | Leave a comment

Nuclear power salesmen vie with each other to sell nukes to South Africa

Eskom Influence Growing In Proposed South African Nuclear Tender,
AFK Insider, 

 July 24, 2016 from City Press. Story by Yolandi Groenewald and Justin Brown. The “fear of nuclear” and criticism of South Africa’s new nuclear build program are largely about the cost rather than the technology, said Brian Molefe, CEO of Eskom, South Africa’s public electricity utility……

While South Africa’s energy department will choose the successful vendor, Eskom, as the owner-operator of the new nuclear plants, will have a large input. David Nicholls, chief nuclear officer at Eskom, gave delegates a glimpse this week of Eskom’s vision for nuclear by defining a leading role for the state utility at the Power-Gen and DistribuTech Africa conference in Johannesburg.

A chosen vendor will lead the early process with Eskom’s input. This is how South Africa’s only operating nuclear plant, Koeberg, north of Cape Town, was built in the 1980s, he said.

Once the design base has been established with the first plant, South Africa will increasingly take charge.

Nicholls’ remarks show that Eskom is in favor of a proven standardized fleet of reactors, with sibling international plants to learn from. This indicates South Africa is likely to choose one vendor and stick with them……….. Vendors from Russia, France, South Korea, the U.S. and China are all hoping to win the lucrative South African nuclear contract.South Africa has opted for a pressurized water reactor technology,……..

July 25, 2016 Posted by | marketing, South Africa | Leave a comment

Dirty uranium industry not a job creator for South Africa

radation sign dirtyflag-S.AfricaUranium is the dirty underbelly of nuclear – scientist 21ST JULY 2016  BY: NEWS24WIRE Anti nuclear sentiment tends to focus onnuclear waste or operational risks, but more focus should be on the “dirty underbelly” of uranium mining, according to a science adviser.

“Whenever people get excited about nuclear power stations, they kind of forget where the actual uranium comes from,”Dr Stefan Cramer, science adviser for environmentalist groupSafcei, told Fin24 in an interview recently.

“Nuclear is a fallacy, both economically and environmentally,” Cramer, who was born in Germany but not now lives in Graaff-Reinet, claimed.

“Uranium mining is the dirty underbelly of this whole nuclearcycle,” he said. “It’s where it all starts.”
“One must stop nuclear industries in (their) tracks because it leaves future generations with an immeasurable task and legacy,” he said. “The best point to start is at the source, where the whole cycle of nuclear technology begins, and that is at uranium mining.

“Uranium mining is very much the dirtiest part of the entire industry.”

Anti-uranium mining boost Cramer’s focus on anti-uranium mining was given a boost this month when Australian company Tasman Pacific Minerals Limited said it is downsizing its mining application in South Africa by almost 90%.

“Overall, the area covered by Tasman’s new and existingmining right and prospecting right applications in the Western and Eastern Cape will reduce by almost 300 000 ha to approximately 465 000 ha,” it said.

Tasman is punting job creation as necessitating the success of its new application. “Currently very few opportunities for additional economic development exist,” it said in a recent report.

“Tasman believes that uranium mining has a significant role to play in improving the economic outlook of the region, not only from an employment perspective, but also in the economic activity that is generated by associated businessactivities that extend beyond mining itself.”

The jobs argument  Cramer said the focus on job creation is “a very powerful argument… that sways in particular local communities”.

“We desperately need jobs in the Karoo,” he said. “The Karoo is an area of high poverty, (with) very low employment opportunities. Any opportunity is usually highly welcome and it is to be welcomed because we need jobs desperately. Buturanium mining is a very poor process to create jobs.

“If we are really serious about job creation in the Karoo, there are other opportunities, which are much more valuable.

“Agriculture is still the main employment opportunity and needs to be protected and improved. Agri-tourism is a very new and very fast rising opportunity, but the best (opportunity) of all is renewable energy.”Renewable energy jobs boost

“South African already has 28 000 jobs in the renewable energy industry as compared to 2 600 in the nuclearindustry,” said Cramer. “Even the most ambitious job projections in the nuclear field would be up to 30 000 jobs if they whole country is run onnuclear energy. If we go into renewable energies, it’s an order of magnitude.

“The Department of Energy predicts up to 350 000 jobs inrenewable energy, so uranium mining is clear(ly) not a good strategy,” he said.

Cramer said nuclear is also a fallacy from a democratic point of view, “because it creates a veil of secrecy over this whole industry”. “That is clearly shown in our court case against the South African government for its failure to disclose the contents of an agreement with Russia,” he said.

July 22, 2016 Posted by | employment, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear energy plans stalled: too expensive

nuclear-costs3flag-S.AfricaEnergy plan stalls on cost of nuclear, Business Day Live, BY CAROL PATON,  15 JULY 2016  THE Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), the government’s long-term plan for electricity generation, is again stuck in the works, despite being six years out of date, with modellers and government officials wrestling over an appropriate price estimate for nuclear energy.

Should the cost of nuclear energy come in too high compared to other technologies, then the nuclear build programme, which is championed by President Jacob Zuma, could be blown out of the water.

The IRP is a 20-year plan that estimates demand, plans for supply, and makes policy decisions on the energy mix based on a range of factors, including energy security and affordability. Regular updates to the IRP — every two years — are crucial to ensure energy security and prevent overbuilding capacity.

In the latest draft, being drawn up by technical experts based at Eskom on behalf of the Department of Energy, the overnight cost for nuclear energy is said to have been estimated at $6,000/kW.

The number comes from several industry sources, who are privy to the information, but was not confirmed by the government. Overnight costs include construction costs, but exclude interest…..

In previous drafts of the IRP, overnight costs for nuclear were estimated at $5028/kW in 2010, and $5800/kW in 2013. The 2013 IRP, which cautioned against nuclear energy due to lower than expected demand and the high risk involved, has never been adopted by the Cabinet.

At the time, it was speculated that the Department of Energy held it back, as it was not nuclear-friendly enough. Instead, the government has continued to use the 2010 IRP, despite its outdated assumptions and modelling, and a wide acknowledgement in the energy industry that its credibility is shot.

The IRP process under way right now is a new attempt to update the plan, which is six years out of date.

But since the modelling team submitted its draft to the department earlier in 2016, the process appears to have stalled. Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said in September that the new IRP would be completed by March. But the draft is far from finished, and public consultations — which should take place under the policy framework — are still far from a reality……

there are other pressures to finalise the IRP. A legal challenge is under way that attempts to block the nuclear procurement on the basis of an outdated IRP.

July 16, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s nuclear sector in crisis

Nuclear sector in crisis as SA weighs options, Business day Live,  BY MARK ALLIX,  15 JULY 2016 THE world nuclear industry status report for 2016 may give SA pause for thought about its ambitions to build nuclear power capacity.

The report says the global nuclear industry is in crisis, and renewable energy is taking over……

SA’s government is adamant that nuclear will be part of the energy mix, and of the country’s commitments to cutting carbon emissions. Existing solar and wind energy technologies cannot cater for base-load electricity demand to run modern industries, it says.

Safety and the funding of huge initial financial costs for nuclear reactors remain critical factors, despite the promise of lower carbon emissions, and ultimately, much lower electricity retail costs. Costs of up to R1-trillion have been estimated for SA’s proposed 9,600MW of nuclear power.

Knox Msebenzi, MD of the Nuclear Industry Association of SA, said on Thursday it was difficult to obtain an authoritative figure. The association, whose members included potential nuclear bidders, had not made an independent estimation of what such a project would cost.

“There are a lot of variables, which if not defined, could push the price up or down,” he said.

Project cost estimations could use typical industry accepted valuations. But despite including plenty of local content such as concrete and steel, costs were also subject to possible litigation over projects and exchange rate volatility for imported technologies.

Silas Zimu, the special energy adviser to President Jacob Zuma, said earlier in July that SA would have to build nuclear power plants on a piecemeal basis, according to what it could afford. It would also need to purchase the best technology, amid huge delays in the global nuclear industry…..

July 16, 2016 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Zuma government backing India’s effort to join Nuclear Suppliers Group

SA backs India to join Nuclear Suppliers Group enca, SOUTH AFRICA Friday 8 July 2016 PRETORIA – South African President Jacob Zuma agreed on Friday to support India’s controversial bid to join the Nuclear Suppliers Group (NSG), an international body that controls commerce in nuclear materials and technology.

Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi announced this at a joint press conference at the Union buildings in Pretoria on Friday after meeting Zuma.

He thanked Zuma for his promise of support in the meeting….

  • The bid is controversial because all the current NSG members, including South Africa, are also members of the NPT, the Nuclear Non Proliferation Treaty, which restricts the possession of nuclear weapons to the five major powers, the US, UK, France, Russia and China.

    India acquired nuclear weapons in 1974 and so could not join the NPT, which it in any case did not want to because it regards it as discriminatory.

    When she was asked earlier this week about this, International Relations and Cooperation Minister Maite Nkoana-Mashabane noted that all current NSG members were also members of the NPT. But she also hinted that in his one-on-one meeting with Modi, Zuma might lend his support to India’s bid…….

July 8, 2016 Posted by | politics international, South Africa | Leave a comment

EDF/AREVA keen to get in on selling nuclear reactors to South Africa

text-relevantBullish Areva wants in on SA’s nuclear tender, City Press Yolandi Groenewald 2016-06-Hollande-sales10 France’s state-owned nuclear businesses are focused on winning the lucrative South African nuclear tender despite recent financial difficulties.

The French will bid as EDF/Areva – nuclear technology company Areva sold its reactor business to the state-owned energy utility EDF earlier this year……..

EDF was facing large investments at its French operations. Its investment compromised about €50 billion (R869.6 billion) over 10 to 15 years, which would extend the operating lifespan of its ageing fleet to 60 years……

The French nuclear industry has faced a number of storms during the past year. Areva teetered on the edge of bankruptcy after years of losses wiped out its equity. It was rescued by French state aid and a sale of its ­reactor business to EDF.

The Flamanville project in France, Areva’s first European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) nuclear pressurised water ­reactor, is years ­behind schedule, way over budget and riddled with technical difficulties…….

France, Russia, China, the US and South Korea are competing for what could be South Africa’s biggest ­procurement project. The contract, estimated to cost ­between R580 billion and R1.56 trillion, aims to add ­nuclear capacity of 9 600 megawatts.

The government has said the nuclear programme would be developed at a pace the country can afford……..

June 10, 2016 Posted by | Germany, marketing, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Energy Minister again misses legal deadline to file nuclear procurement papers for the High Court

Joemat-Pettersson misses third deadline to file papers in nuclear case
BY CAROL PATON,  ENERGY Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson has missed a third deadline to file papers to oppose an application by the SA Faith Communities Environmental Initiative (Safcei) and Earthlife Africa to have the proposed procurement of nuclear energy declared unconstitutional.

The two groups filed papers in October asking the High Court in Cape Town to rule that government had failed to meaningfully consult the public on the nuclear procurement.

They will also argue that the inter-governmental agreements on nuclear procurement signed with Russia, France, China and the US are illegal as they were not preceded by a determination in the government gazette by the minister.

Safcei and Earthlife Africa said on Friday that this was the third deadline that Joemat-Pettersson had missed in as many weeks.

Government failed to respond by the May 13, and asked for an extension until  May 30. Earthlife and Safcei then instructed their lawyers to issue a rule 30A notice, which gave the government until the May 31 to respond.

“On Tuesday June 1, our attorneys were advised that the answering affidavit has been drafted, is currently being reviewed by the Office of the Presidency, and that the State Attorney hopes to be in a position to file it on or about June 7,” they said in a statement.

If this latest deadline is missed, the Safcei/ ELA legal team will approach the courts to force government to comply with the legal time frames. Failing this they will ask the courts to strike out the government defence and for their application to be unopposed.

“We believe that this consistent failure to comply with the legal time frames points to an unaccountable government,” says Liz McDaid, Safcei spokeswoman.

June 4, 2016 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 1,217 other followers