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Environmental and Human Rights Groups Oppose Russian-made Nuclear Plants in Namibia

In Namibia, environmental and human rights groups are criticizing a proposal to build Russian-made nuclear power plants in the country. Earthlife Namibia and the National Society for Human Rights say they are concerned about health risks and damage to the environment.

Phil ya Nangoloh is the head of the human rights group. From Windhoek, he spoke to VOA English to Africa Service reporter Joe De Capua about why he opposes the plan.

“The problem is nuclear power is definitely not clean energy. It has never been and that is a very serious concern. We are very concerned that this is the beginning of perhaps even nuclear dumping on Namibian soil. And that is pollution and that is in fact death,” he says.

Ya Nangoloh says that the floating uranium-operated power plants have never really been tested. He says that in 2005 the Russians announced it would build such a plant in the town of Severodvinsk in northern Russia, but that no information is available for review.

Asked whether the International Atomic Energy Agency would keep an eye on nuclear operations, ya Nangoloh says, “We really hope they will. But our concern is it must not even start. We are equally concerned about intensified uranium mining, which has its byproducts, which are extremely dangerous. We do not have the technology in Namibia…to clean up pollution when it takes place.”

Namibia recently opened the Langer Heinrich Uranium Mine, leading President Hifikepunye Pohamba to say that he’s proud of his country’s growing contribution to clean energy. President Pohamba also indicated Namibia could be a source of electricity in the SADC (Southern African Development Community) region.

The human rights activist says, “President Pohamba is ill-informed about the dangers that come with both uranium mining as well as uranium power stations.” Ya Nangoloh says that Russia has a poor nuclear safety record, citing the Chernobyl disaster in 1986 and several accidents aboard submarines.