Thursday, December 20, 2007

Media Should Be Careful With Nuclear Reporting

The Washington Post published an article, "A Nuclear Site Is Breached," that made it sound like a commercial nuclear power plant in Africa was successfully breached by attackers. The article should have distinguished between a commercial nuclear power plant (only one on the continent of Africa) and a nuclear research facility. The distinction is very important because the article referred to "a site where hundreds of kilograms of weapons-grade uranium are stored." Such uranium is not at any commercial nuclear power plants. The attack at the research center was not successful and would have completely failed at any highly secured commercial nuclear power plant. AAEA would like to see many more nuclear power plants constructed in many different African countries and confusing articles will not make the job any easier.

The article should have taken the time to distinguish between Pelindaba Nuclear Research Center, left, where the attack occurred, and Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, right, which is the commercial nuclear power plant and the only one on the entire continent. Pelindaba is a research facility and Koeberg is a commercial nuclear power plant. The Pelindaba Center is located at Pelindaba near Hartbeespoort Dam approximately 30-35 km West of Pretoria( Northern South Africa inland). Koeberg is approximately 30km northwest of Cape Town, close to Melkbosstrand (Southern South Africa on the coast). The article described a 'successful' attack that posed a danger for constructing a dirty bomb. Hopefully, such reporting in the future will provide distinguishing descriptions of the facilites so that the public will not be unnecessarily frightened and prejudiced against this beneficial technology. With public acceptance African countries could prosper from the benefits of nuclear power and mitigate the problems of global warming and climate change.

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