Parliament presses on for Tudor Shaft community relocation

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

Cape Town - Parliament's Portfolio Committee on Energy has urged the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) to speed up its pace in trying to assist the Tudor Shaft community in Gauteng, where high levels of radiation were detected.

The community was temporarily resettled on the wetland in 1996 from Mogale City.

Briefing the committee, NNR head Boyce Mkhize said that they conducted a radiological survey last July to assess the safety of the site.

"The NNR found that radiation (levels) were high ... although these levels still fall within the safety margin of the standards prescribed by the NNR," said Mkhize. 

As a precautionary measure, the NNR had recommended the relocation of 41 affected families. According to sample test results carried out on two people who had lived in the area for 10 years, they had "a clean bill of health ... that gave us some semblance of comfort in terms of exposure," said Mkhize.

The NNR said though there was no current danger to the families, they had an obligation to take measures to protect people and their properties from radioactive contamination.

There have also been allegations of uranium elements in the water sources around the community, which Mkhize said they would look into.

The decision to relocate the families was taken after a meeting on 9 February with the NNR, local councilors and affected families.

Among the control measures to deal with radioactive material, the NNR was considering possible excavations (with the material being suppressed), controlling discharges such as liquid effluent and diluting the material with others of "lower activity concentration."

COPE's Phillip Dexter asked if there were other parts of the country with the same problem and if the NNR was being "proactive or reactive" to such issues. Lance Greyling of the Independent Democrats said that he had visited the area and it was "a shocking state of affairs."

Greyling further posed the question why mining companies should be allowed to leave dumps for government to clean up.

Mkhize responded, saying they were both proactive and reactive and had limited resources to cover the whole country as his organisation was made up of only 96 people.

However, he said that they were working with other departments and universities to ease the workload.

Once they were done in Tudor Shaft, they would move to the East Rand, which had similar problems.

Committee chairperson Sisa Njikelana commended the NNR for its intervention but warned that they should speed up the process because his team would be watching. - BuaNews