Posted on: March 17, 2009 Posted by: Diane Swarts Comments: 0

South Africa. Alarms went off at the Pelindaba Nuclear Facility near Hartbeespoort Dam, west of Pretoria after higher than normal levels of radiation forced a shutdown of the plant on the morning of the 16th of March 2009.

According to the Nuclear Energy Corporations of South Africa (NECSA), the abnormal radiation levels, associated with xenon and krypton gases, were detected in a building used for the production of radioisotopes for medical applications.

Spokesperson for the Coalition Against Nuclear Energy in South Africa, Mike Kantey expressed his concerns about the incident and reported that his biggest fear was the presence of iodine in the emissions.

He noted that there would be a big problem if there was any iodine present. Mr Kantey further explained that the presence of iodine was responsible for severe illnesses in the Chernobyl disaster of 1986.

NECSA CEO Rob Adam said that since the incident occured during a production run, the release of the chemicals was above the operational limits thus setting of the alarms but, was still below the daily limit.

Mr Adam further added that all employees were requested to rally at designated assembly points while the radiation levels were evaluated, as a safety precaution.

NECSA spokesperson Chantal Janneker maintained that the leak was not a threat, adding that the gases emmited are not absorbed at any level by living systems.

She also noted that since the incident was deemed a site only emergency, it was not necessary to take any off-site precautionary measures.

The radiation levels had returned to normal and employess returned to work at about 10.38AM.

According to NECSA, the incident has been deemed as a site emergency and the National Nuclear Regulator given notification.

Mike Kantey, spokesperson for the Coalition Against Nuclear Energy in South Africa felt that the Nuclear Energy Regulator would not reveal the truth and added that an independent investigation would be carried out urgently.