Nuclear Fire

The topic of nuclear power is a common one in the debate around renewables vs. fossil fuels with pro-earth activists often citing nuclear power as a hindrance to a cleaner and better environment. This is a valid concern that should not be limited to earth activists only – the cons around nuclear power do exist: high costs, radioactive and other invisible pollutants, and the dangers involved. The Chernobyl disaster of 26 April 1986 is famous, the event gathered worldwide attention and is still considered to be one of the worst manmade disasters in history with an INES Level 7 (INES is the International Nuclear and Radiological Event Scale with Level 7 indicating the radioactive release which had a widespread negative health and environmental effect).

Chernobyl’s plant itself had been running for 9 years before the accident took place which officially caused the death of 31 men. Unofficially, the disaster’s related death toll is a lot higher when you take into consideration the individuals who experienced radioactive-related illness years after the disaster took place.

On the other hand, more recent disasters like Fukushima had no deaths and has been considered to have had excellent exit strategies. The historical context is also to be looked at: the alleged fraudulent scientists like Nobel Prize winner Hermann Muller (whose findings on the severity of radiation were directly contradicted) and with the growing consciousness on a cleaner and safer environment, scientists are becoming increasingly interested and well-versed on topics like radiation, the climate and human reactions. According to Forbes, “climate scientists Pushker Kharecha and James Hansen found that nuclear power prevented an average of 1.84 million air pollution related deaths” in 2013. Governments in India and the United Kingdom are working with nuclear plants to increase safety and public health measures.

The topic of nuclear energy is no different to any other controversial topic in the energy sector – it is complex and not as simple as black and white. For this reason, it would behoove professionals and the laymen to examine both sides of the argument (before reaching their final conclusion on the matter) – even when this point is reached, the value of cross and counter referencing should never be done away with.

The various environmental laws have been gaining traction for some time. This growing environmental consciousness many times opposes the traditional energy practices across the world, which, as mentioned, is not a simple debate to determine who is right (if anyone at all). This mindset is seen in South Africa as well: S24 of the Constitution promotes conservation and to prevent pollution. Other Acts include the National Environmental Management: Biodiversity Act, Air Quality Act, etc.

If you are in the energy industry and require any assistance on how to navigate the legalities of your trade and business, or need assistance on how to progress your energy business do not hesitate to contact us to provide you with a wealth of experience in the energy sector.

Faure Swanepoel
Candidate Attorney


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