24 March 2011
The Pelindaba Working Group today slammed the clandestine manner in which the government and its nuclear industry are pushing a radioactive agenda on the South African public and in particular a workforce for whom a job could be tantamount to suicide.
The Department of Energy sent out a media invitation to attend a “public participation event on understanding Nuclear Energy” and tout for workers in the very same black township outside Pretoria where scores of former workers of the nuclear industry have died from occupational disease.
Residents who live in Atteridgeville and Sausville where the Energy Minister and others will today try to persuade residents to take up a career in the nuclear industry, were totally unaware of the planned event which was only announced late yesterday afternoon.
“We suspect this is a carefully staged event for propaganda purposes,” said Alfred Sepepe, representative of many Atteridgeville-based ex-nuclear workers for whom there has been no compensation for occupational diseases. “Whoever arrives here will have been pre-organised by them themselves as a way of pretending that people from Atteridgeville support them. We don’t. Too many of us have died from sicknesses caused by working at Pelindaba.”
Mr. Sepepe has spent the past 2 years trying to obtain a meeting with the Energy Minister who has repeatedly failed to pitch for pre-arranged meetings. He and his team have also approached President Jacob Zuma’s office, which sent him back to the Energy Minister. Late last year the Energy Minister finally sent Mr Sepepe a letter saying he should take up his issues with the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA (NECSA) and regurgitated stock answers issued by NECSA over the issue of ill workers over several years.
About 208 ex-Necsa workers were diagnosed by medical expert Dr Murray Coombs as having the basis for claims for occupational compensation. NECSA was approached to assist them with additional medical examinations under independent supervision but refused and instead produced their own white-washed medical report refuting the workers claims.
“The irony of these workers failing to get a single meeting with the Minister and now having to attend a “participation” meeting on understanding “nuclear energy” at a time when the world over people are turning their backs on this heinous energy source is beyond conscience,” said Dominique Gilbert, coordinator of the Pelindaba Working Group.
Mr. Sepepe and members of his committee will be attending the meeting uninvited as it may be the closest the manage to get to see the Minister.
We call on the government to immediately put an end to its nuclear policy.
South Africa’s nuclear policy is undemocratic and Gazetted without so much as a Parliamentary debate.
Before South Africa turns to more nukes, there must be full disclose of the legacy of the full fuel cycle of the industry from uranium mining to radioactive waste “management”/spills/leaks/environmental hazard and a full assessment of how innocent workers and communities have been affected from the various radioactive sites in this country.
Pelindaba Working Group
Tel: 083-740 4676
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