Nuclear and Uranium Mining Update

As reported by Dr Stefan Cramer and Liz McDaid

Radiation hotspots

Radiation Hotspot near Beaufort-West.

Our work on nuclear and uranium mining continues in full-steam with discoveries being made that only confirm our determination in raising these issues as being of great concern for all people of faith.

Through his work on uranium mining in the Karoo, SAFCEI Science advisor Dr Stefan Cramer has discovered some radiation hot-spots that are unprotected and unregulated, whilst the nuclear court case has uncovered irregularities and facts kept secret in the nuclear procurement process.

While everyone was engaging on the issue of fracking, the uranium mining industry managed to silently sneak into the Karoo. In the course of alerting South Africans to this new challenge to the environment and us, Dr Stefan Cramer discovered unprotected and unregulated radiation hotspots across the Karoo.

In some publicly accessible places around Beaufort-West, the radiation Dr Cramer measured was 40 times above the permissible level, while sheep and goats were happily grazing between high-grade uranium ores. And this has been going on since 1977 already, nearly 40 years.

Furthermore, Tasman RSA Mines has begun to dump nuclear wastes on this site. This poses an even greater threat as the radioactive wastes are not solid ore-bearing rocks but consist of finely powdered drill dust. This dust can be blown around with any gusty wind or washed into the next dam, with one barely 100 metres from a nearby dam feeding drinking water boreholes of the next farm.

Nuclear waste

Nuclear waste in an open pit in the Karoo.

Dr Cramer alerted the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR),  however they avoided measuring at the hot spots and let the company off the hook. SAFCEI will explore other avenues to see that this situation is addressed.

Over the past few months, Dr Cramer has succeeded in lifting the veil of secrecy over the industry’s plans and through his hard work has made this a victory for Earth Keepers. The next round will be a hard one to win however; it is highly unlikely that government will not issue mining licenses considering the current political and economic climate. However round three is still open: these licenses will have to be challenged in court. Meanwhile Dr Cramer is going into schools, farming communities and to the media. The Karoo, the beautiful handiwork of our Creator, cannot be damaged beyond repair!

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Liz McDaid speaking at Way Beyond Nuclear.

Further down the value chain, we have also been hard at work raising funds for our nuclear court case, and held the fundraiser, The Power of Now: Way Beyond Nuclear, last month.

We had a great line-up of speakers with Nik Rabinowitz holding it all together with his humour and wit. After our Green Bishop opened the event, Kumi Naidoo, SAFCEI ambassador and former Executive Director of Greenpeace International, gave us the ‘nightmare scenario’ of what it meant if South Africa followed a nuclear pathway. Kevin James, Sustainability and Climate Change expert, then spoke about the alternative route of renewable energy and the great success it is already having.

Liz McDaid, our Energy Consultant, brought everyone up to date with the proceedings of the court case and made the powerful point that the court case is about much more than nuclear; it is about how decisions are being made in this country.

Our court case has exposed a total lack of transparency, secret decision making and lack of accountability. The court action was launched in October last year and since then the government has dragged its heels in responding – even missing its own deadlines – and their paperwork seems to fail to justify the nuclear deal.

And while we believe we have made substantial gains in forcing transparency we need all Earth Keepers’ support to continue; to the constitutional court if necessary.

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Way Beyond Nuclear fundraiser

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