Nuclear energy expert a doctor, of spin

LAST week the nuclear spin machine tried its best to get out of the bunker at the St Francis Links course.

Dr Kelvin Kemm (as reported by The Herald, “Record of decision on Thyspunt soon”, February 27) believes Thyspunt is an “ideal site” for a nuclear power station and, on the SABC, claims nuclear is the “safest form of energy production”.

Tasked with promoting the country’s nuclear ambitions, it’s to be expected that he’s a little upbeat about nuclear. But terms like “ideal” and “safe” have so much spin on them Kemm should consider bowling for the Proteas!

In this wonder world of nuclear-saves-the-day, Fukushima, Chernobyl and Six Mile Island never seem to have happened. No explosions, no melt-downs, no exclusion zones, no communities uprooted, no radioactive fall-out, no radioactive leakage into the sea.

Chernobyl came close to bankrupting Russia and Fukushima’s cleanup is going to take decades and cost billions. Is this “safe”?

The latest environmental report for Thyspunt is more than a year overdue.

The initial drafts got key facts like prevailing wind direction wrong.

There is no answer yet as to the impact on Khoisan heritage sites and sea life, nor on the potential decimation of the chokka industry.

No word on how they will upscale infrastructure like the bridges across the Sand and Krom rivers to cope with increased traffic.

Communities surrounding large infrastructure projects like Medupi and Kusile are not happy places to live. In what world is this “ideal”?

Areva, the French nuclear company, is in huge financial trouble. Every single nuclear project has had massive delays and cost over-runs.

The nuclear industry is in decline worldwide. If the Russians win the tender to build, how do we know that local businesses and employment will benefit?

Why does the World Bank refuse to invest in nuclear if it’s such a good thing?

If there were no alternatives – even at its trillion rand price tag – a power source to better coal could have been a proposition to consider. But solar and wind are already cheaper, quicker to put in place, better drivers of local business and most certainly “safer” than nuclear.

The renewable energy industry is growing rapidly, so why put our eggs into the nuclear basket?

How long will radioactive fall-out take to reach NMB if we’re only 80km away? How long to evacuate more than one million people?

Has this risk been planned for? Why has NMB had no voice in this?

Nuclear is not safe. Thyspunt is not an ideal site. Kemm is certainly a doctor, of spin.

-NoPEnuke, Port Elizabeth

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