photo: Geof Wilson via flickr.
As part of new proposed low-carbon energy proposals, UK energy secretary Ed Miliband has outlined plans to build a fleet of new nuclear power plants. But as outlined in The Observer, the hidden costs of fueling those power plants include despoiling the Namibian desert, not to mention a gigantic coal plant to power uranium extraction:Uranium Exploration & Expansion Inside Park Boundaries
At the center of this is the expansion of a international rush on uranium in Namibia being led by a subsidary of mining megacorp Rio Tinto, Rössing Uranium, and the French state-owned firm Areva.
Rössing already supplies 8% of the world's uranium from a single mine, and wants to expand it into the Namib-Naukluft national park. Areva has leased hundreds of square kilometers of desert to build another massive mine. More than 20 other mining companies from a variety of nations also have been granted licenses to search for uranium in and around national park lands.
Namib-Naukluft national park, photo: Joachim Huber via flickr.
75% of Namibian Water Company's Output Needed
The result of all that mining is likely to devastate the desert around the mines, contaminating it with radioactive sand, as well as contaminate groundwater supplies. Not to mention consuming huge quantities of water... 53 million cubic meters of it, which will have to be pumped 56km from the ocean.
Plus a New Coal Plant
Oh, and then there's the fact that a new coal-fired power plant, consuming more than 2.4 million tons of South African coal, and spewing 10 million tons of CO2 into the atmosphere every year, is planned to be built to power the mines.
Nuclear power is a low-carbon solution? Not hardly. Those new power plants may lower the carbon footprint of the UK on paper, but Namibia's will just increase. It's just another instance of playing pass the pollution.