On the African continent today, South Africa is the only country to possess a nuclear reactor, and its developments in this field will undoubtedly influence other African countries. If funds and efforts are focused on nuclear power, this inhibits the development of renewable energy, which is the only long term clean solution. To enable a sustainable energy future, it is therefore essential to stop the spread of nuclear power.
Nuclear power is being promoted by an international industry that downplays the dangers and costs involved. Despite the enormous risks and costs associated with nuclear power, the South African government has stated it is planning to order 6 more nuclear reactors in early 2012, which will commit the country to a nuclear path. Recent articles such as this one in the Mail & Guardian, this one in Engineering News, this one from the governmental news service, and this one in Engineering News are a strong indication that these plans are moving ahead without sufficient regard for public engagement and opinion.
The Koeberg Alert Alliance was formed in 1983 and started out as a local campaign against South Africa’s nuclear programme, in particular the construction of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. In response to government plans to build further nuclear power stations, it was revitalised in 2009, and has been involved in public participation processes, lobbying government, education and awareness raising.
Connections between countries are essential
Since the nuclear industry is international, in order to counter it effectively, the anti nuclear power movement needs to have an international component. Establishing connections between countries and organisations is therefore an important step. The Global Conference for a Nuclear Power Free World in Yokohama in January 2012 was an excellent start to this process, and the conference we are organising in March 2012 in Cape Town will be able to build on this, specifically in the African context.
This conference has been arranged by the Koeberg Alert Alliance and its partners and will bring together experts, activists and NGOs to help coordinate working more effectively together towards a truly sustainable energy future. The dangers of nuclear and its costs, as well as the viability of renewable energy in the South African context will also be emphasised.
How to bring international experts over?
To make it a truly international event, they would like to include as many organisations from as many countries as possible. There are several speakers and delegates who have committed to attend the conference, pending funding being available to cover their travel costs. Koeberg Allert Alliance is appealing to organisations and individuals to help make this possible, by funding the travel and accommodation for a delegate to the conference, or a part of their costs. Visas and flights need to arranged as soon as possible, so if you are thinking of assisting, please let them know so they we can continue with logistical arrangements as required.
These are some of the people who would like to join, but do not have the funds…
- Iskander Ragy, Egypt: Iskander is 40 year old Architectural Engineer. From 18 months ago Iskandar became involved in investigating alternative forms of energy such as solar technology, generators, wind, nuclear, etc. He realised that nuclear power is a very risky and unrealistic solution to generate electricity in Egypt, especially in the proposed site at El Dabaa. He is now working with the organisation Nahdet El Mahrousa to stop what he calls ‘this crazy step’. Iskander would be an important link in establishing an African network against nuclear power.
- Dominique Gilbert, South Africa: Dominique has been a stalwart of the anti nuclear lobby in South Africa for many years, and is currently involved in the Pelindaba Working Group which focuses on the research reactor at Pelindaba in the north of South Africa. Dominique would bring a wealth of anti nuclear experience to the conference, and be an essential link in an African and global network.
- Soumya Dutta, India: Soumya is the convener of the Bharat Jan Vigyan Jatha (Science for society) and works with the South Asian Dialogues on Ecological Democracy. He has been spearheading the protest against Gorakhpur nuclear plant in collaboration with others. If Soumya could join, he could share the experiences of the large grassroots successful protests against nuclear power stations in India, and hopefully help inspire the same to happen here.
- Paul Saoke, Kenya: Paul is a public heath specialist and director of International Physicians for Prevention of Nuclear War (IPPNW-Kenya) and is currently vice president of the International Society of Doctors for the Environment (ISDE) for Africa. He has written many papers on the dangers of nuclear weapons in Africa. With his scientific background, Paul would be an important link in establishing an African network of anti nuclear advocates.
- Trudi Malan, South Africa: Trudi is a volunteer for the Thyspunt Alliance, and is their official spokesperson. Trudi would bring a link to the potential site near St Francis Bay, which is currently the favoured site for the first new nuclear plant.
- Harry French, Canada: Harry holds a masters degree in Interdisciplinary Resource Planning and a postgraduate qualification in Human Systems Intervention, which focuses on the use of social processes in the collaborative development of organizations and community. From 2009, Harry is now the Director of the Community Power Services Group of OSEA, an Ontaria based NGO, and for the last three years has worked with communities to develop community owned power generation systems. South Africa could learn from Harry’s work, and hopefully use that to move towards implementing the same community owned solutions here.
- Hasegawa Kenichi: Kenichi-san was a dairy farmer in an area to the north west of the Fukushima nuclear plant. Despite the farms being outside of the 20km evacuation zone, the local farmers found that the contamination from the nuclear disaster made their dairy cattle and milk too radioactive to be safe. He would like to come to Cape Town to share his experiences, and share how the farmers in the area dealt with the situation, and what measures were found to reduce the contamination of crops and livestock. This would help the local farmers understand what the consequences of having a nuclear power plant in the area could be.
- Anton Vdovichenko, Russia: A young student in the Soviet Union at the time of the Chernobyl disaster, Anton became involved in a students´ club established by his teachers father in 1987. This later became “Radimichi – for the children of Chernobyl,” working to help residents of evicted villages through organising camps for Chernobyl children. Anton has been running camps since 2001, which have provided for 570 children from the Chernobyl Zone who have been affected by the nuclear disaster there. By sharing his ongoing experiences of the results of a nuclear disaster, Anton will bring home to people here the possible consequences of accepting nuclear power.
- Kyle Theirmann , USA: Kyle is a 21 year old pro surfer who has created a series of short films, combining surfing with current issues. “Surfing for Change: J Bay Nuclear Plant” is Kyle´s latest short film exploring the dangers of a planned nuclear power plant in the pristine shores of Jeffrey’s Bay, South Africa. Kyle would be able to build connections to the surfing community in Jeffrey’s Bay, as well as motivating the youth to engage with this issue.
- Göran Bryntse, Sweden: Göran is a technology expert and citizen activist in the field of energy and environment. He has also be involved as a specialist in a Government review of legislation re radiation safety. From 2003 – 2011 Göran was chair of the Swedish Anti-nuclear Movement. Göran would bring insights from his long experience as an activist, and also be an important link to European anti nuclear organisations.
The cost of travel would be approximately €900, and accommodation €320.
In addition to travel costs, we would also like to cover costs such as meals, airport transfers, a photography exhibition about Fukushima, the conference venue and printing, so any contributions towards these would also be most appreciated.
Their South African bank details are: FNB, branch 210046, account number 6233 2652 991. For more information contact Peter Becker +27 (0) 83 4442083. For more information about the conference and other event in March visit www.koebergalert.org