March 10-The Namibian-THE use of nuclear power is unsafe, dangerous and a bad option for Namibia, due to long-term radiation and unsolved problems regarding nuclear waste storage placing a heavy burden on future generations, a Namibian environmental organisation says.
In a reaction to last week's Cabinet decision to opt for uranium enrichment in Namibia as well as the construction of a nuclear power plant, the organisation Earthlife Namibia on Friday said it was "absolutely shocked" about the decision.
"Given current global demand, it is estimated that the world's uranium resources - both those currently available and possible new reserves - will be exhausted within 60 to 70 years," it said.
Earthlife stated that Government's view that electricity produced by nuclear power plants was environmentally friendly and free of carbon emissions was not true.
According to the Cabinet briefing paper, "energy produced by nuclear power stations is considered carbon free, especially if its fuel is processed using nuclear-generated electricity.
Products made or mined using this power qualifies for special consideration in terms of carbon credit."
Earthlife countered that the nuclear industry lobby and pro-nuclear politicians wanted to make the world believe that nuclear power was climate friendly.
"The whole fuel cycle of nuclear power, from mining uranium, enrichment of uranium to the decommissioning of the power station after its lifespan, releases three to four times more carbon dioxide per unit of energy produced than renewable energy," Earthlife spokesperson Bertchen Kohrs noted.
"High-level nuclear waste remains radioactive for a long time and worldwide there is no solution of safe disposal.
Nuclear waste is a problem that does not go away because it remains dangerous for at least 200 000 years, thus we burden many generations to come with a problem we create today.
There is a risk of low-level radiation in all stages of the nuclear power process.
Research shows that low-level radiation does have health and environmental implications," Kohrs said in the statement.
Earthlife argues that nuclear energy is on average up to four times more expensive than electricity produced from fossil fuels like oil, coal and gas.
"The enormous costs of decommissioning a nuclear power station and dealing with nuclear waste are usually not included in project cost plans."
Nuclear accidents were mostly a combination of technological and human failure, and could never be ruled out completely; a nuclear accident could have a terrible impact on many generations to come, it warned.
"The consequences of the nuclear explosion at the power station of Chernobyl in the Ukraine 20 years ago still burden many people and the environment.
"Earthlife Namibia urges Government to not make nuclear energy generation an option.
Namibia has many sustainable and climate-friendly resources which should be utilised to the benefit of the country, its people and the environment.
Namibia has two uranium mines - Roessing and Langer Heinrich - in operation.
Twelve more mines are planned, mostly in the Erongo Region, while the largest uranium deposit has been found near Warmbad in a mountain range along the Orange River.
According to mining experts, Namibia's uranium deposits will be depleted by about 2026.
"There is not much use of having a nuclear power station and a uranium enrichment plant, both of which would take at least ten years - until 2018 - to get up and running when eight just years later uranium mining will end," a geologist speaking on condition of anonymity told The Namibian over the weekend (The Namibian).