NUCLEAR energy is “too little, too late, at too high a price” as an option for the country’s growing energy crises says Greenpeace South Africa.

Amnesty International and Greenpeace united at Wits on Wednesday are to give a presentation titled The Nuclear Debate: Lessons from Fukushima and Human Rights to highlight the connection between the human right to a safe and healthy environment, and the health and environmental implications of nuclear energy plants.

The South African government has tendered a R1-trillion contract to build six nuclear reactors, a deal which would account for 20% of world expenditure on nuclear energy in the next two decades.

Greenpeace representative Ferrial Adam challenged the three “myths of nuclear power” being; nuclear energy is the best way to respond to energy needs, that it is safe, and that it is the answer to reduce carbon emissions which would in turn help slow down climate change.

Amir Bagheri, an Amnesty International representative and former Wits student used his presentation to highlight the connection between a healthy environment and access to basic human rights, pointing out that all human rights are effected when people are forced to live in unhealthy environments.

Adam used the Fukushima nuclear disaster, which occurred over a year ago, to show how radiation can make a very large area around the site uninhabitable. She contested that while pro-nuclear groups are quick to point out that there were no fatalities from meltdown at the plant, the health consequences of radiation exposure are long term, such as increased chances of developing cancer and a rise of birth defects in children.

Along with the health risks, there are no effective methods of disposing of radioactive nuclear waste, which remains dangerous for centuries after it has been created.

To see photos from Greenpeace’s recent campaign against nuclear energy click here