Around Johannesburg the impact of uranium mining is widely detectable. Huge parts of its population struggling with its Legacy. South Africa is the only African country running two nuclear power stations. One as a source of energy, the second infamous for its accidents. The president Jacob Zuma pushes a program to extend its nuclear capacities by 9600MW in what would be the biggest infrastructural project for the country ever. Other African countries showing interest in nuclear as well. The Legacy and tradition of grassroots protest makes the opposing population a player to count with.
About 2,5 million people are living close to South Africa’s radioactive and toxic mine dump sites, containing high levels of uranium, sulphates, cyanides. The toxic dust finds its way into the food chain by acid mine drainage, leakages and radioactive dust. The sludge is being used for cosmetics, Kids play soccer on radioactive dust, people use polluted water for irrigation. The number of disabled kids is alarmingly high. The industry behind is escaping its responsibilities.
We went to see the begin of nuclear energy, such as it presents itself in South Africa, the mining of uranium and the associated status and expansion plans in the Country and how it effects the so-called African Nuclear Renaissance. Does nuclear energy have a chance for being the solution to climate change? Is it a clean energy, such as the industry promotes it?
Many people live on or near toxic mine dump sites with many knowing about the hazards, but having nowhere to go or nobody to complain to. The mining industry ever increasing its territory and devastating whole landscapes. Resistance on the ground is loosely connected, but growing.
Activists say there is a historical momentum found in Africa now, as energy is a key issue and infrastructural changes will need to happen and will happen. The market is ever developing. Africa could become a renewable continent. ‘Prevent a whole continent from becoming nuclear – Provide tools and help for renewables instead’ and ‘It can still be stopped!’ What positive example of developing renewables do countries like Germany give and how could that relate to South Africa?