The 3rd annual Nuclear Forum to take place at Emperor’s Palace on May 19 2011, has taken on even greater urgency and importance, as Japan reels in the wake of a nuclear crisis following a devastating earthquake and tsunami.
Governments around the world are re-thinking nuclear plans after Fukushima, including South Africa, where Cabinet recently approved plans to build a second reactor at Koeberg and two new nuclear power stations at Bantamsklip and Thyspunt.
On Sunday night, current affairs television programme Carte Blanche broadcast a segment that raised concerns about the possibility of earthquakes and tsunamis on the Cape coast near Koeberg nuclear power station and the site of one of the proposed new plants. (Milnerton Fault, March 27.)
But nuclear physicist Dr Kelvin Kemm, CEO of Stratek Business Strategy Consultants, says Carte Blanche unfortunately played on public fear and ignorance of nuclear power. “Much was made of stories of seismic ocean waves recorded a century ago, but the fact that Koeberg is designed to withstand earthquakes was glossed over.
Kemm says public perception plays a major role in formulating government policy and that one of the objectives of Nuclear Forum 3 will be to devise ways of educating the public to allay fears. Kemm says another important discussion will look at reducing the capital cost of nuclear power in South Africa, which remains high.
Nuclear Forum 3 takes place in the context of a dramatic growth of energy and electricity consumption globally over the last number of years – a trend that will definitely continue, especially as developing regions like Africa, China and India increase energy consumption to fuel economic growth and alleviate poverty.
South Africa has declared its intention of doubling electricity production in the near future. With world sentiment aimed at curtailing the use of fossil fuels, nuclear energy remains the only clean, reliable source of baseload electricity.
Nuclear Forum 3 will address a number of questions that remain to be resolved as South Africa embarks on a nuclear energy expansion programme, in the wake of the worst nuclear crisis since Chernobyl in 1986. For many people in developing nations, the risk of not having access to energy at all, may seem greater than the risk of a nuclear incident.
“The public needs to be accurately informed on nuclear issues, so as to facilitate open and meaningful public participation in energy provision discussion,” says Kemm. “The Fukushima incident underlines the need for a powerful and reasoned approach to the important issue of nuclear power.”
March 29 2011
Issued by: Siyenza Management
On behalf of: Nuclear Forum
Contact: Candice Scorer
+27 (0) 11 463 9184
+41 (0) 11 463 8432
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