There’s much debate around the world about the use of nuclear power, from those who have not got it, and those who are winding down its reliance on what is easily the cleanest fuel.

Nuclear power in France is mainstream policy. In Italy and Germany, their governments are looking at scaling it down. In the UK, which has several nuclear power stations, Hinckley Point continues to be an economic nightmare in the process.

Let’s look at the spread of nuclear power stations around the world and the major disasters of Chernobyl, Three Mile Island and Fukushima.

Nuclear power stations

I’m going to hone in on South Africa, home of this blog, where a nuclear bill programme conducted by the Russians is estimated at $1 trillion for eight power stations. South Africa brought online its first of two nuclear power stations at Koeberg in the Western Cape, 30 kms from Cape Town, in April 1984. Unit 2 followed in July 1985. Koeberg has been running all that time, with no major incidents.

SA, therefore, has nuclear expertise.

Eminent environmentalist, George Monbiot now recommends nuclear power as the best alternative energy in the UK. See his INTERVIEW for more information.

He, like others, indicates that the devastation caused by the tsunami in March 2011 at Fukushima has resulted in no serious radiation exposure. If you remember, the power station at Fukushima was levelled by the catastrophic combination of a force nine earthquake and a tsunami. Despite a legacy of poor design, the wrong siting of the power station on the coast and in an earthquake zone, no one has yet received a lethal dose of radiation.

Of course, there will be the detractors of nuclear power who will point to other problems, but the truth remains that nuclear is still the safest and cleanest of electricity generation.

So, is a trillion dollars better that relying on natural gas (yet undiscovered in SA’s Karoo), solar and wind power? It is a conundrum.

Hopefully, the South African government will, for once, ensure there is no corruption in this deal. Citizens await this with baited breath.