Thursday, 16 October 2014

South Africa’s Nuclear Disaster

Forget Ebola that is spreading in West Africa, down south we have our own Chernobyl or Fukushima disaster right in Johannesburg. No I am not taking about the proposed eight new nuclear reactors by 2023. I am talking about a silent killer blowing in the wind.

Driving home after work from the west rand I noticed the dust blowing off the mine dumps. This dust was being blown towards the City of Johannesburg. Little does the public know that this dust is radioactive, yes highly radioactive dust from mine dumps like the one shown above which is situated between Randfontein and Krugersdorp.

Another little known fact is that uranium was mined here for the Manhattan Project which produced the Second World War atomic bombs and continued supplying the United States and the United Kingdom deep into the Cold War. In 50s and 60s the processes was not as refined as they are now and the result is these mine dumps which are still highly radioactive.

A few months back I saw a map depicting the current levels of radioactivity in the areas of Randfontein and Krugersdorp, and it was scary, real scary. It was colour coded with orange and red everywhere. It is red where this mine dump is and there was even a road, the R41, a main artery road from Randfontein going south towards Johannesburg that was red. The road had an arrow pointing to itand text stating that it was built from radioactive material, ouch.

And then there are the mine dumps dating back to the 50s. The other day I saw a small business making bricks for residential houses right next to one of these mine dumps using the very same radioactive sand for the bricks.

Interesting that this mine dump photograph has a cross on the left.

And then the wind blows...

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