[Marxism] Nuclear power

Patrick Bond pbond at mail.ngo.za
Sun Oct 16 00:23:18 MDT 2005

----- Original Message ----- 
From: "Louis Proyect" <lnp3 at panix.com>
> While nuclear energy might not produce greenhouse gases

Yikes comrade, that's definitely not true, when you take into account a 
variety of ancilliary processes. Below is a critique of SA nukes that comes 
out tomorrow in a new book from http://www.ukzn.ac.za/ccs - *Trouble in the 
Air: Global Warming and the Privatised Atmosphere* - which I can send anyone 
(1.8 megs) offlist. This is one of the chapters: not the very final edited 
version but close enough.

What's wrong with nukes,
what's right with renewable energy?

By Muna Lakhani

The way we use energy throughout the world is causing a lot of harm. We are 
poisoning our children with the petrol that we use. In countries like 
Lesotho, Namibia and Mozambique, we are moving thousands of people to build 
big dams so that we can create electricity from the flow of water over the 
dam wall. When we burn dirty coal in our electricity plants, factories and 
homes, we warm up our planet and cause floods and drought somewhere else. 
Burning coal also causes many health problems for people using coal at home, 
or living near coal fired power stations, especially problems with their 
lungs and throats. Their houses are also difficult to keep clean, and even 
their washing gets made dirty again. Our coal fired power stations are 
amongst the dirtiest in the world.
        The way we are currently using energy means that we will pay more 
and more for that energy, as the fixed resources (coal, oil and wood) run 
out. This will mean no energy for our grandchildren and those that follow 
after them. This also impacts badly on our health, our studies, our 
enjoyment of life. It also makes it more difficult for us to afford safe and 
clean energy.
        We have to ask ourselves: 'What are the social, environmental and 
financial costs of our use of energy?' 'What can we do with energy supply, 
and use sources that are better?' 'What are the challenges facing the 
government and the people in finding a better energy mix?' At the same time, 
we must improve living conditions in informal settlements, hostels and 
townships. We must find solutions that also allow future generations to live 
a better life. The quality of life, a healthy environment and sound 
development are all closely linked. Bringing energy and environmental 
concerns into all stages of housing delivery and the upgrading process, can 
save money and improve the quality of life not just for us today, but for 
the generations that are yet to come.

The new nuclear threat

Given the growing concern about the inevitable impact of climate change, the 
nuclear industry is trying to revitalise nuclear power by claiming that it 
does not release carbon dioxide. While CO2 is not produced at the power 
plant, large amounts of CO2 are generated through mining, transport and 
especially uranium enrichment. Nuclear power generation thus creates over 8 
tons / GWh of power that is delivered - much more than renewable energy 
        Nuclear energy is the energy stored in the smallest piece of matter: 
the nucleus, or centre, of an atom. When the nucleus of one atom, Uranium, 
is broken (called 'fission'), it forms two new atoms and lets out a large 
amount of energy in the form of heat. This heat is used to drive a turbine, 
which then generates electricity. We have one nuclear power station in South 
Africa at Koeberg, 28 km from the Cape Town city centre.
        Nuclear power is not safe. When the nucleus of the Uranium atom 
splits it also creates new atoms (such as Strontium and Cesium), which are 
very dangerous because they are radio-active. This means that these new 
atoms are always giving off little amounts of radiation. When they go in 
through the mouth and nose and find their way into the bones and organs of 
people, they can break down cells in those organs and bones. This causes 
cancer and birth defects.[1] The National Union of Mineworkers say that many 
people have died from working in nuclear power plants and Uranium mines. 
Some doctors around the world say that communities living near nuclear power 
stations also die more from cancer and give birth to damaged children. 
Nuclear power stations can also have major accidents, such as the Chernobyl 
accident in the former Soviet Union.
        Certain types of radiation can also travel through a person, just 
like X rays do, which also cause much harm. It must be remembered that 
radiation cannot be seen, heard, touched, smelt, tasted or destroyed. 
Nuclear power also produce dangerous radio-active waste at every stage of 
the nuclear fuel cycle: from uranium mining, to reactors, to the 
re-processing of irradiated nuclear fuel. No one has found a proper solution 
to the long-term storage of this used fuel and other high radioactivity 
waste. There is also a strong link to the international nuclear weapons 
programme, including depleted uranium ammunition. When Koeberg comes to the 
end of its life, it will also be contaminated and the whole building will 
have to be treated as radioactive waste, which will remain dangerous for 
thousands of years.
        All over the world, people are saying 'No nukes!' The nuclear 
industry in the developed world, particularly Western Europe and the United 
States, is on its last legs. Germany has put an end to its programme; there 
are no new orders coming from the United States, France has stopped its new 
reactor programme, the World Bank has made a decision not to finance any new 
nuclear power plants. Nuclear reactors can also not be used to minimise 
greenhouse gasses under the Kyoto Protocol.
        So why are we carrying on with nuclear power? Government's White 
Paper on Energy Policy says that no decision on nuclear power stations will 
be taken before all energy issues have been discussed with everyone. But 
Eskom is carrying on with a new nuclear power programme: the Pebble-Bed 
Modular Reactor (PBMR) programme, to be sited at Koeberg or Pelindaba. The 
reason they chose Koeberg or Pelindaba is because nuclear sites exist at 
these places, making it cheaper for Eskom.
        The Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) want to make 
the radioactive fuel at a new factory at Pelindaba, which will also release 
radiation during the manufacture of fuel. There will be up to 9 trucks every 
day on our roads carrying radioactive products for the next 40 years if they 
are able to achieve full production. Even just one accident will cost many 
billions of Rands to clean up, and the radiation will remain harmful for 
thousands of years. NECSA have not proven that they can even make the fuel, 
nor if they can make it safely. A nuclear container they designed recently 
was rejected by the USA, and they have also used casual labour to work on 
radioactive material with no protective equipment.
        There is no debate whether radiation kills; maims; causes mutations; 
is cumulative; causes leukemia (mainly in children), cancers, respiratory 
illnesses and attacks the immune system (with children, pregnant women and 
the elderly the most vulnerable). The only disagreement is about what is 
considered an allowable dose. There is no such thing as a 'safe' dose of 
radiation. The only people who say that radiation is safe are those who make 
money from radioactive processes, and cannot be trusted, as they have proven 
so far, here and overseas.
        Earthlife Africa is alarmed at the potential for dangerous nuclear 
accidents should Eskom continue with its plans for the Pebble Bed Nuclear 
Reactor (PBMR) Programme. The fuel for the new PBMR is a graphite wrapped 
pebble, the size of a tennis ball, containing enriched uranium kernels. The 
plant to manufacture these fuel balls will be built at Pelindaba near to 
Tshwane/Pretoria, but the raw material - enriched uranium - will need be 
imported via a harbour in KZN, probably Durban.
        Eskom officials plan to build approximately 216 Pebble Bed Modular 
Nuclear Reactors (PBMRs). Of these, 24 reactors are earmarked for local 
energy generation, and Eskom hope to sell the remainder on the international 
market. This means that in addition to transporting enriched uranium, the 
manufactured fuel pebbles will need to be transported from Pelindaba to 
various locations as far as Cape Town, as well as to Durban for export.

Radioactive waste

A dangerous feature of the present nuclear policy is its treatment of waste. 
A metal smelter melts metal into blocks, called ingots. That in itself is 
not usually a problem, but at Pelindaba, NECSA want to build one for melting 
radioactive waste that has piled up over many years. They say they need to 
melt the metal to stop people getting hold of the technology that makes 
nuclear weapons. However, internationally, the waste is treated by cutting 
it into small pieces (which has to be done for melting anyway); crushing it, 
so that it cannot be used again; and covering it with ceramics (clay) so 
that it is in a hard covering, which will also not allow people to recover 
the metal pieces to use as weapons.
        All radioactive waste should be stored above the ground, so that it 
can be monitored, especially so that the radiation can be measured, to see 
if there are any leaks which can then be fixed quickly. The melted metal 
from Pelindaba, which will still contain radiation, will be sold as scrap, 
releasing the danger to the public, so that our spoons or toasters can be 
made from it, bringing the danger to our homes.
        If we allow the smelter to go ahead, it will be very dangerous for 
the workers, as they will be working in a room with no special filters; even 
the special filters on the smelter will let radiation escape. Over 5 kilos 
of radioactive dust will escape every year, and be spread by wind year after 
year, increasing the harm it can do to all life in the area. In the USA it 
is normal for the radius around which such a smelter has an impact as 160 
kilometers. In South Africa, people live next door to Pelindaba.
        NECSA have also said that they want to 'commercialise' the smelter 
when they have finished melting the waste at Pelindaba. This means that our 
energy minister and the energy minister of another country can agree to 
allow radioactive waste to be imported to South Africa, to be melted here, 
releasing more radiation around us, and selling that scrap metal again. 
Already, radioactive scrap is being dumped in Somalia, Ertitrea, Sudan and 
Mozambique - we cannot be next.

Nuclear fuel in motion

At the height of proposed PBMR production, nine trucks would drive through 
Durban every week carrying enriched uranium to Pelindaba and another 31 
trucks would return carrying fuel pebbles for export. A total of 231 012 000 
kilograms of radioactive materials would be travelling on our roads during 
the 40 year lifetime of the reactors - an average of 9 trucks a day. (These 
figures are based on information provided by Eskom in their EIA process.) 
eThekwini residents should be concerned about the enriched uranium 
transported through the harbour up to Pelindaba. Even if only the first 
demonstration PBMR is built, 1000 kg of enriched uranium will be transported 
        Eskom claims it will be transported in specially constructed 
canisters, but the information provided by Eskom as part of the 
Environmental Impact Assessment process says that the canisters are only 
designed to withstand a drop of 9 metres. So if a truck had an accident on a 
bridge and the canisters fell, they could easily be split open and expel the 
enriched uranium, described by Eskom as a fine powder. At windspeeds of only 
3 metres per second, this can blow 10 kilometres within an hour. And Durban 
mean daily wind speeds are at least 4 metres per second. In this instance it 
is very likely that it will not only contaminate land and water sources, but 
will be breathed in by many people.
        Earthlife Africa is concerned that emergency services in Durban 
would provide an inadequate response in the event of a nuclear transport 
accident, given recent statements made by emergency personnel and the 
response to transport accidents such as the recent asbestos spill on the M7. 
Furthermore it would be difficult to evacuate a wide area in an emergency. 
Hence over the last few years, insurance companies have been amending 
household insurance policies to specifically exclude any damage or loss 
caused by nuclear fuel, waste and its associated radiation from their 
        Used fuel poses the greatest risk in the nuclear chain. Used fuel 
will need to be transported from the reactors at some point and this waste 
then needs to be safely stored. There is the possibility that other 
countries that buy reactors and fuel from us, will demand that the highly 
radioactive used fuel be returned to us as the country of origin.
        Transport accidents involving used fuel could be a calamity. 
Graphite, the casing of the fuel pebbles, burns readily in air if exposed to 
temperatures of greater than 800 degrees. Diesel burns at 1010 degrees 
centigrade and magnesium alloy wheels burn at far higher temperatures. Thus 
in an accident where there is a fire we can expect the graphite balls to 
combust. Water cannot be used to put out a graphite fire. (Used pebbles are 
also prone to mechanical damage such as chipping, cracking and the 
separation between the outer graphite, and silicon dioxide layers exposing 
the uranium / graphite to fires, etc.)
        In short, South Africa has no policy on how to 'manage' radioactive 
waste.'Medium' and 'low' level waste is transported to Vaalputs in 
Namaqualand for long term disposal. Highly radioactive used fuel from the 
existing Koeberg reactors has not been moved here because of the great 
danger. Instead government spent R80 million on new high-density storage 

A bad financial deal

Nuclear energy is not cheap. But Eskom continue to spread false promises of 
delivering cheap power to the poor. The economic viability of the PBMR is 
based on spreading the start-up costs across 216+ reactors, which need to be 
sold on the international market. However, government and Eskom continue to 
withhold crucial information on the financial feasibility of the PBMR from 
public scrutiny.
        Ten years ago Eskom was claiming that the first 'demonstration' 
reactor would cost about R1 billion and would create thousands of jobs. But 
Eskom now concede that R1,5 billion have been spent on the design and 
feasibility process to date. An additional R500 million was authorised by 
government in November 2004. Another R10 billion is needed to build the 
first pilot reactor and the fuel plant. These costs exclude decommissioning 
of the facilities - estimated at a minimum of R100 million, fuel costs for 
40 years, ongoing (high) cost of maintenance, and storage of the radioactive 
waste for at least 240 000 years. The existing Koeberg reactors were built 
at a cost three times more than originally promised.
        Nuclear energy generation costs in the U.K. turned out to be double 
what the UK government had originally claimed. The last reactor built in the 
UK in 1995 cost $3000 per kilowatt of capacity - nearly ten times more than 
it costs to build a gas-fired power plant. British taxpayers are presently 
faced with a £48 billion bill for cleaning up historical nuclear 
contamination. Even the World Bank is sceptical: 'Nuclear plants are thus 
uneconomic because at present and projected costs they are unlikely to be 
the leastcost alternative. There is also evidence that the cost figures 
usually cited by suppliers are substantially underestimated and often fail 
to take adequately into account waste disposal, decommissioning and other 
environmental costs.'
        There is a limited export market for PBMRs. Eskom have been trying 
to sell their reactor internationally for at least eight years, with 
expensive international trips and marketing campaigns, but have not been 
able to show us written evidence of any international interest in purchasing 
PBMR units. Most countries in Europe are phasing out nuclear power, with the 
exception of France, which has its own nuclear industry. French nuclear 
company, Areva declared that the PBMR was 'not competitive to generate 
large-scale electricity.' The USA also has its own nuclear industry, which 
withdrew support for the PBMR in 2002. The most likely market is East Asia, 
but China is developing its own reactor models (including a pebble bed).

Not 'Proudly South African'

While Eskom claim PBMR as a Proudly SA product, this design was actually 
purchased from Siemens after Germany abandoned the programme. The German 
programme was shut down because malfunctioning fuel balls became stuck, 
because of dislocated graphite tiles on the inside of the reactor, and 
because of a large accident at Hamm-Uentropp in May of 1986, which the 
regional authorities tried to pass off as 'fallout from Chernobyl'. Not only 
are we trying to tweak unproven, hand-me-down technology but we will also be 
importing many of the key parts.
        The PBMR also creates few jobs. Most components of the demonstration 
unit will be imported from foreign companies because we do not have the 
capability to produce these highly specialised items. During 2005 the 
following contracts have been awarded: Mitsubishi Heavy Industries - 
contract to build the turbine machinery at a cost of $12 million; and Uhde, 
a division of Germany's Thyssenkrupp Engineering - contract to build the 
fuel plant and infrastructure at a cost of $20 million. This might explain 
why the thousands of jobs promised by the PBMR programme won't be delivered: 
only 80 full-time jobs will be provided, mostly for highly skilled people. 
At present, the PBMR company staff (about 50 full time) earn an average of 
R480 000 per year, or R40 000 per month.
        As another example of not proudly South African values, the PBMR 
appears rife with vested interests. Cabinet appointed Maurice Magugumela as 
the CEO of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), the government body tasked 
with safeguarding the public from nuclear harm. The NNR also gives the final 
go ahead to a reactor by issuing the operating license. Maqugumela is also 
the Safety and licensing Manager of the PBMR Company for five years.
        Reuel Khoza, the CEO of Eskom had a 28% interest in IST Holdings 
through his own BEE companies when IST were awarded a contract of R260 
million for development of the PBMR by Eskom. And Louisa Zondo, the previous 
CEO of the NNR, was on the board of a company that owns a 25% stake in IST.

Safe, clean and simple energy options exist

We all agree that fossil fuels cause environmental and health problems, and 
we need to move away from these unsustainable fuels. The question is through 
what means? Energy conservation is the first step. South Africans (mostly at 
household level) reduced energy consumption in 2004 by 198 MW ( = 1,2 
PBMRs), 30% more than government's annual target.
        Secondly, public funds should be used to ensure safe, clean and 
reliable energy delivery to all South Africans. We should invest in those 
technologies that are at the cutting edge of energy provision: technologies 
that are sustainable, proven, decentralise power generation to where it is 
needed and that optimise job creation.
        Twelve billion Rands can buy:

·         one 165 MW Pebble Bed Modular nuclear reactor = 80 full time jobs 
+ 1400 construction jobs of one year; or
·         1700 MW of wind power = 850 full-time jobs + 3000 construction 
jobs which can be supplied locally; or
·         5700 MW of solar PV = 680 full-time jobs + 8800 construction jobs 
which can be supplied locally; or
·         795 MW of generating power saved by providing solar water heating 
for 1,2 million houses, thereby improving the quality of life of six million 

Well-proven and commercially viable renewable technologies exist but haven't 
been tried at scale in South Africa. For example, wind is a tried and tested 
technology that one can set up really quickly with relatively unskilled 
labour and it is easy to build turbines locally. There are numerous sites 
across the country where the wind resources are sufficient for wind energy 
generation. Wave, tidal and solar thermal power will deliver bulk industrial 
supplies safely and reliably - waves and tidal currents never stop.
        Our wind and solar resources are amongst the best in the world. If 
the EU can develop solar thermal technologies why don't we with our more 
reliable supply of sunlight? Even if we disregard the dangers associated 
with nuclear power, renewable energies are better for the economy. The 
international markets for these safe technologies is growing by up to 40% 
per year, with the nuclear market growing (at best) a few percent a year.

What can be done, instead?

Because of global warming and pollution at the local level, we need to use 
less oil for transport, and less coal for electricity and industry. Research 
and development money must be spent on alternative, environmentally friendly 
energy sources such as wind, solar, wave and biomass. There are a number of 
ways we can better use energy, and make energy safely and cleanly:

·         Energy efficiency. If we use less electricity to do the same jobs 
we are being energy efficient. Some fridges and stoves, for example, use 
less electricity than those that we used in the past. Compact Flourescent 
Lights (CFLs), which use less electricity for the same amount of light are 
now advertised on TV under Bonesa. If we put in ceilings and insulation, and 
make sure that our buildings and windows face North, we can also reduce the 
energy we use for heating our homes and factories. Eskom was able to reduce 
their electricity consumption at the head office by 34%, by implementing 
energy efficiency.
·         Solar water heating. If we were to use energy directly from the 
sun to heat water in our homes and factories, we would save half of the 
electricity that we normally use from the national grid. In some countries, 
governments pass laws that compel people to use solar heating. If everyone 
were to use solar water heaters in South Africa, we could do away with one 
2000 Megawatt coal-fired power station, or 20 pebble-bed reactors. Solar 
cooling can also be used instead of normal airconditioners. Large mirrors 
reflect the heat of the sun to one spot on the tower, making that spot very 
hot - this heats water to make steam, which then turns a turbine to make 
electricity. There are different kinds of mirrors that can be used - those 
that are quite flat, like those on the left, or they can be curved (like 
half a pipe) and a pipe for water can run through the middle.
·         Solar thermal. Solar power can also be used to generate large 
amounts of electricity, by concentrating the power of the sun with mirrors 
or lenses, like a giant magnifying glass. This very hot process easily and 
quickly turns water into steam, which can then drive a turbine - it is 
exactly the same generating process as coal fired power stations, except 
that the source of heat is the sun. If we used the world's deserts for 
electricity generation, we could supply the whole world with only 2% of the 
land covered by deserts. We can also use low temperature Solar Thermal for 
the drying of food, for example.
·         Solar panels. PV - Photovoltaic - panels turn sunlight into 
electricity. The sun can also be changed to electricity through solar 
panels, which are normally linked to batteries. Because lights, radios and 
TV sets do not use a lot of electricity, they make the best uses for solar 
panels. Solar panels are also great for people who live far away from grid 
electricity. Since the demand for solar energy is growing all the time, the 
cost of manufacturing solar panels is coming down every year.
·         Wave energy. The waves at the edge of the ocean can also generate 
electricity. Throughout the world, governments and businesses are conducting 
more research on wave energy. This is the energy held in rising and falling 
waves at sea, which makes a wave generator go up and down, and so make 
electricity. This is already happening commercially. As the recent storms in 
Cape Town have shown, South Africa's coastline has excellent potential for 
wave power generation, and Stellenbosch University has already produced 
working models. For example, it is estimated that 0,2% of the ocean's wave 
energy could supply the current worldwide demand for electricity. Every 
metre of coastline in Northern California provides enough energy to power 20 
average American households, who use more electricity than South Africans. 
Rough calculations show that 40m of wavefront could produce enough power to 
run the Point Hotel in Cape Town (200 kw per 40m of wave), and with only 1 
km of wave, we could generate enough power for Cape Town. Wave energy is 
captured in a very easy way - the waves (which never stop) go into the pipe 
at the bottom - this pushes the air in the tube out - while it is doing 
this, it can turn a fan (turbine) which generates electricity. When the wave 
drops, air comes rushing back in, which can turn the turbine again, to make 
more electricity.
·         Wind energy. Wind energy is one of the fastest growing industries 
in the world, and the cost of wind power has been coming down every year. It 
is also competitive with coal and gas. If you take into account the health 
costs of coal, wind has already been found to be cheaper than coal in the 
USA. In some countries wind already produces over 10% of people's energy 
needs and by 2010, wind energy will supply over 10% of Europe's power needs. 
Some analysts predict that wind could supply up to half of all global energy 
needs by 2100. Wind is better than coal and nuclear power because it can 
often create electricity close to where it is used; there are very few 
impacts on the environment; it creates local jobs; and South Africa has 
great wind resources along our coastline and the escarpment. We need to use 
this energy source more in the future.
·         Hydro-energy. For centuries, people have been using the energy 
from small amounts of moving water ('hydroenergy') to grind grain - like the 
Josephine Mill, next to the Newlands sports ground in Cape Town. In the last 
hundred years, however, engineers have built massive dams to hold back large 
amounts of water, and then let it out to run through big turbines, to 
generate hydro-electricity. But these big dams have equally huge 
environmental problems (like the Narmada Dam in India) and governments are 
moving back to small hydro-electric generation (or 'micro-hydro'), as this 
has little impact on the environment. We can build micro-hydro schemes on 
small rivers and equally small dams. If we use local technology and skills, 
we can also create local jobs. In some countries such as Sri Lanka, 
micro-hydro can supply up to 90% of people's energy needs.
·         Bio-energy.'Bio' means 'life', so 'Bio-mass' is the raw material 
of living things.'Bio-fuels' are the kind of fuels we can get from 'bio-mass', 
and the outcome is 'bio-energy'. So we can burn bio-fuels directly, such as 
wood, but we can also change bio-mass, such as sugar-cane or beet, into gas. 
We can also change bio-mass chemically into liquid fuels, such as ethanol, 
which we can then use to generate electricity, or burn as transport fuel. 
The left-over mush (or 'slurry') can then be used as compost. We can call 
wood and other bio-fuels sustainable and renewable, if we harvest them in a 
way that does not destroy the environment. In many countries, small bio-gas 
'digesters' are used to produce gas for homes or communities, but in Denmark 
20 large bio-gas plants currently digest wastes from animal and 
food-processing wastes. We can also capture usable gas from sewage.
·         Geo-thermal energy. When the heat from the centre of the earth 
('geo-thermal' energy) is close enough to the surface, we can use it to heat 
water, and so generate electricity. Global usage is growing very fast and 
now stands above 8000 MW. Geo-thermal energy is not dependent on the weather 
and can be utilised 24 hours a day.
·         Tidal energy. A good answer to those who say that 'all renewable 
energy is intermittent' (comes and goes) is to suggest that - besides wave, 
wind, geo-thermal, and micro-hydro (which are generally very predictable) - 
we use Tidal Energy. Water in the oceans is constantly moving, at different 
levels underwater, and never stop. These tidal currents are very strong, and 
are responsible for some of our plastic bags being found in Australia. 
Similar technology for microhydro and wave energy can be used here, and is 
already being tested commercially.
·         Storing energy. Fuel cells are devices that combine the basic 
elements of hydrogen and oxygen to produce energy and water. Many people see 
them as a good way to store energy from natural sources, such as solar and 
wind. This is because fuel cells need some energy first to produce hydrogen, 
which can then be made into electricity. Fuel cell technology is growing 
fast: some of the big motor companies want to have products on the market by 
2003. Many cities around the world are already testing fuel cell engines and 
these engines could soon replace the noisy, polluting car engine we know so 
well. Fuel cells produce energy 'on tap' and can also be used as small, 
portable power plants (much better than pebble-bed reactors). Another 
advantage of hydrogen fuel cells, is that we can use intermittent (as well 
as other) renewable technologies to produce the hydrogen.
·         Pumped storage. This is already being used in South Africa, but 
not using renewable technologies. Pumped storage this is where (usually) 
water is pumped up to a higher level, using energy when there is little or 
low demand, and then releasing it to make more energy when required - for 
example, at times of high demand, like winter mornings and evenings. 
Renewable energy is very good for this application, as it can be used 
whenever the resource is available, and then released when needed.
Gas. Because natural gas gives off less carbon dioxide when it burns, 
scientists see it as a fuel which can bridge the gap between the old days of 
dirty coal and oil to the coming clean-energy world, based on Renewable 
Energy (RE) and hydrogen power. In this period of the early 2000s we are 
using gas for over one fifth of our global energy needs. Although gas is 
also a fossil fuel, it produces much less carbon dioxide than coal or oil. 
Southern Africa has abundant supplies of gas.


[1]. Although enriched uranium is only mildly radioactive, ingestion through 
the mouth and nose is extremely harmful because of its chemical toxicity, 
which is comparable to lead, according to the World Nuclear Association. The 
main chemical health effect ascribed to uranium in humans has been damage to 
the kidneys. Recent research shows that ingested particles can enter the 
bloodstream from the lungs or stomach where they may exert systemic toxic 
effects. Acute pulmonary effects relating to chemical toxicity have been 
observed in rabbits. Insoluble uranium particles can remain in the lungs for 
many years causing chronic radiotoxicity to be expressed in the alveoli, 
potentially leading to cancer. The National Radiological Protection Board in 
Britain conceded in 1995 that 'there is in fact no threshold radiation dose 
under which one wouldn't risk growing a cancerous tumor - in other words 
even small doses can make one ill.' 452 used fuel pebbles will be released 
from the reactor core every day and become waste - translating into a daily 
amount of 226 000 Curies of radioactivity generated daily at one reactor, 
which will remain dangerous for thousands of years. These are enormous 
quantities. A single curie of iodine 131 - one of many isotopes created 
through nuclear fission - could make 10 billion quarts of milk unfit for 
continuous consumption (USA guidelines). The PBMR EIR Final Report clearly 
shows Strontium-90 as a byproduct of the fission process in a PBMR reactor. 
This isotope has been directly related to incidences of leukemia among 
children aged 0-14.
[2]. The following are a small sample of nuclear transport accidents 
reported in the USA: v The Critical Mass Energy Project (part of Ralph Nader's 
Public Citizen) tabulated 122 accidents involving the transport of nuclear 
material in 1979, including 17 involving radioactive contamination. For 
example, two canisters containing radioactive materials fell off a truck on 
New Jersey's Route 17 in September 1980. The driver did not notice the 
missing cargo until he reached Albany, New York. In 1986, a truck carrying 
low-level radioactive material swerved to avoid a farm vehicle, went off a 
bridge on Route 84 in Idaho, and dumped part of its cargo in the Snake 
River. Officials reported the release of radioactivity.


Trouble in the Air:
Global Warming and the Privatised Atmosphere
edited by Patrick Bond and Rehana Dada
Published by UKZN CCS, Durban and TNI, Amsterdam

Download this book - published on 17 October 2005 - for free at 


Patrick Bond and Rehana Dada
What's wrong with carbon trading? 
Graham Erion
What's wrong with our energy system? 
Patrick Bond
What's wrong with nukes, what's right with renewable energy? 
Muna Lakhani
What's right with pollution trading? 
Lawrence Summers
Profits from fresh air 
Janet Wilhelm
Putting a price on fresh air 
Patrick Bond and Rehana Dada
Kyoto credits system aids the rich, some say 
Shankar Vedantam
Double-edged sword of the Kyoto Protocol 
Richard Worthington
A new source of African finance 
Megan Lindow
An appeal for zero waste 
Muna Lakhani
Durban's perfume rods, plastic covers and sweet-smelling toxic dump 
Trusha Reddy
Protest over dump site plan 
Juggie Naran
A new dump at Bisasar Road: Immoral, stupid move 
Sunday Tribune Herald
Bisasar community buy-in? 
Rehana Dada
Bellville's 'socially sustainable' dump 
Mpumelelo Mhlalisi
Sasolburg's filthy air 
Caroline Ntaopane
Low hanging fruit always rots first: South Africa's crony carbon market 
Graham Erion
Climate fraud and carbon colonialism 
Heidi Bachram
Is following the American pollution trading model a recipe for injustice 
Larry Lohmann, Graham Erion,
in global carbon markets? 
Jutta Kill and Michael K. Dorsey
Profits via prototype carbon fund greenwash 
Larry Lohmann, Graham Erion,
                                                               Jutta Kill 
and Michael K. Dorsey
Whose energy future? Big oil against the African People 
Oil companies drain Africa, now - and with Pretoria's help, in future? 
Patrick Bond
Pretoria's Clean Development Mechanism Policy 
RSA Dept of Env. Affairs & Tourism
Climate Justice Now! The Durban Declaration on Carbon Trading
Condemn Carbon Trading! Support for the Durban Declaration on Carbon Trading 

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