South Africa. Medical and Occupational Safety records related to a former employee of Ucor, a private company that conducted top-secret research at the Valindaba nuclear facility outside Pretoria in the ’70s and ’80s must now be released.
The order to release the confidential information related to South Africa’s apartheid-era nuclear weapons programme comes in a landmark ruling by the High Court in Pretoria.
The state-owned SA Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) now holds these records.
In terms of the court order, Necsa must hand over all relevant medical and Health and Safety documents related to 62-year-old Tilman Roux. Roux seeks compensation for cancer he alleged was caused by exposure to ionising radiation.
Roux worked at the infamous Y plant of Ucor’s uranium enrichment plant between 1974 and 1983 at a time when South Africa was actively seeking nuclear weapons capacity.
The court instructed Necsa to deliver all relevant information to the Compensation Commissioner.
Roux’s concerns about possible radioactive contamination mounted after he was diagnosed with rare blood plasma cancer in June 2007.
Dominique Gilbert of the anti-nuclear lobby, the Pelindaba Working Group, said there were at least 500 other former Necsa employees who might seek compensation.
She said Roux’s case might finally lift the veil of secrecy around working conditions at apartheid-era nuclear facilities, but that the current government appeared to be repeating the mistakes of the past by denying access to information.
Source: The Times
By: Bobby Jordan
Published: 18 January 2009