One day soon, people in South Africa will be subjected to radioactive particles in everyday household goods – from your child’s braces or new toy, baby prams, jewellery, eating utensils, zippers – virtually anything that contains metal.
According to a group of concerned activism organisations, our country is heading down a radioactive “recycling” road that will effectively dispense radioactive matter into the stream of recycled metal in the market – and be released to the public on a daily basis.
Your help, by simply sending an email (example below, with email addresses) to show your objection to the proposed smelters, is urgently needed.
The Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) has already built and started testing a radioactive metal smelter for the purpose of Pelindaba, their main nuclear research centre, and also the location where SA’s atomic bombs of the 1970s were developed, constructed and stored.
Unless stopped, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) will award licenses for three radioactive metal smelters at NECSA’s Pelindaba atomic complex in the coming month, to smelt down 14,000 tonnes of radioactive apartheid-era atomic bomb metal scrap. This is despite the fact that the waste could be smelted in a few short years, so one suspects the REAL plan is to be an importer of radioactive waste from the world, and turn us into a dumping ground.
This is despite what was described as flawed environmental impact analysis approval processes and a public outcry during the public hearings of the NNR in October 2012. By smelting radioactive metal scrap NECSA will be absolved from responsibility, liability and costs of storing the radioactive material on site. Instead it will rake in profits from selling recycled radioactive metal scrap. This deregulated metal will end up in your household goods. Surprised? We were too.
Unacceptable and irresponsible
Even ‘low-level’ nuclear waste can contain lethally radioactive and long-lived elements, such as Plutonium-239, Strontium-90 and many others. In 2005 a blast ripped through a Russian radioactive metal scrap operation, and caused molten metal to burst out of the smelter.
Questions were raised after the event about safety, violations and radioactive gas leaks into the air likely to have impacted 5 million people in the region. In 2011 in France, an explosion at a nuclear metal scrap smelter triggered a fire, and killed a worker. The chance of this being repeated in South Africa is not worth the risk.
So-called ‘recycling’ of radioactive metals is unacceptable and irresponsible.
South Africa ratified the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty – known as the Pelindaba Treaty – and agreed “not to take any action to assist or encourage the dumping of radioactive wastes and other radioactive matter anywhere within Africa.” If these smelters are not stopped there will be growing volumes of radioactive scrap, mainly from decommissioned nuclear reactors and facilities, that will in the long-term be passed through these plants and sold off into the public domain containing residual radioactive elements.
A global campaign is being launched for the same reasons several non-government and community-based organisations in South Africa oppose radioactive metal smelter plants. We have written to formally request the smelter plants are NOT licensed, instead that the radioactive metal scrap be encapsulated. We encourage you to join us in requesting these plants be stopped.
Copy the letter below into an email and send it to the email addresses provided, and help stop this nuclear waste madness – if not you, then who?
Subject: Stop radioactive recycling in South Africa
For Kind Attention: National Nuclear Regulator, Mr. Thabo Tselane, Acting Chief Officer, firstname.lastname@example.org;
- The President, the Honourable Mr Jacob Gedleyihlekisa Zuma
- The Deputy President, the Honourable Mr. Kgalema Motlanthe, NNEECC, (private secretary), (Parliamentary councillor)
- Ms Edna Molewa, Environment Minister, Peense@dwa.gov.za (private secretary), (Chief of Staff)
- Ms Dipuo Peters, Energy Minister, (private secretary)
- The National Planning Commission, Mr Dumisa Jele, Chief of Staff
- Ms Lerato Kgomo, Acting Assistant
- email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; email@example.com; firstname.lastname@example.org; Govenderk@dwa.gov.za; Margaret.Khoza@energy.gov.za; email@example.com; Leratok@po.gov.za; firstname.lastname@example.org;
For Kind Attention: Those concerned with Nuclear Licensing and associated Activities
I’m writing to request of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), the Energy and Environmental Ministers, and the Deputy President who heads the National Nuclear Energy Executive Coordinating Committee (NNEECC), to ensure that the licensing requested by the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (NECSA) for radioactive smelter plants at Pelindaba is PREVENTED.
In any just or democratic society, when industry requires government approval to undertake activities that have the potential to harm public and worker health and/or the environment, consideration of alternatives should be mandatory. Flawed environmental impact analysis approval processes authorised three proposed energy-intensive radioactive metal smelters due to be licensed at the Pelindaba plant. If licensing proceeds, nuclear waste will be dumped and dispersed onto the public via recycling streams and deliberately contaminate common market items and the environment, as well as metal workers.
South Africa ratified the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone Treaty – known at the Pelindaba Treaty – and agreed ‘not to take any action to assist or encourage the dumping of radioactive wastes and other radioactive matter anywhere within the African Nuclear-Weapon-Free Zone.’ Deregulating radioactive apartheid-era atomic bomb metal scrap for public consumption is unacceptable and irresponsible.
Accordingly, NECSA should NOT be granted licenses for radioactive recycling smelter plants, and dismantle the smelter plant already erected and tested without a license at Pelindaba. The offensive radioactive atomic bomb metal scrap should rather be safely encapsulated.
Will each recipient kindly acknowledge receipt of this letter.