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NYT: Break-In at Nuclear Site Baffles South Africa

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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 07:06 AM
Original message
NYT: Break-In at Nuclear Site Baffles South Africa
http://www.nytimes.com/2007/11/15/world/africa/15joburg...

Break-In at Nuclear Site Baffles South Africa

By MICHAEL WINES
Published: November 15, 2007

JOHANNESBURG, Nov. 14 — This much is known: Just after midnight on Nov. 8, Anton Gerber was sitting with his fiance in the control room of South Africa’s most secretive nuclear facility, the site at which this nation’s apartheid government conceived and delivered six atomic bombs, when four gunmen burst into the room. Mr. Gerber pushed his fiance under a desk. The attackers shot him in the chest, grabbed a computer and fled, but abandoned their booty as they came under assault by guards.

Now, one week after the assault, the most serious on a nuclear installation in recent memory, the government is largely mum about who was behind it, how they broke in or why.

Already, the attack is raising questions among advocates and analysts about the wisdom of plans by South Africa and other African states to embrace nuclear energy as a solution to chronic power shortages and the looming problems of climate change.

The assault on the Pelindaba nuclear reactor and research center, one of South Africa’s most zealously guarded properties, is a severe embarrassment to the government. The four gunmen escaped cleanly, neither caught by guards nor identified on surveillance cameras. Mr. Gerber is still recovering.

On Tuesday, officials belatedly acknowledged that the Pelindaba reactor had come under attack that same night by a second team of gunmen who were also repelled — and also escaped — after guards sounded an alarm.

<snip>

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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 07:24 AM
Response to Original message
1. chronology of events
http://www.thetimes.co.za/News/Article.aspx?id=612324

<snip>

The corporation’s chief executive officer, Rob Adam, said of the suspended officials: “We are not saying they are suspects, but their own systems are being investigated and it is best for them to be temporarily isolated from those systems.”

<snip>

The corporation said the events early last Thursday were as follows:

12.16am: Four armed men gain access to the facility by cutting through an electrified perimeter fence. They deactivate security “layers” on the fence to prevent an alarm being triggered in the security control centre. Guards are unaware of the gang’s presence.

1am: A patrolling guard spots another group of intruders on the western side of the facility. Shots are fired and this group flees without gaining access.

Shortly after 1am: The first group of four breaks into the facility and removes a computer from an office near the emergency control centre. They enter the control room. A fight breaks out between them and station commander Anton Gerber. Gerber is shot in the chest but is able to alert other security personnel.

1.15am: The gang flees, apparently empty-handed, leaving behind the computer they tried to take. It is found on a balcony near the control room.

The police are alerted and a search gets under way involving police officers, police dogs, security personnel and a helicopter.

3am: Adam is told of the break-in by telephone and arrives at the facility 25 minutes later.

<snip>

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bananas Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 07:45 AM
Response to Original message
2. some earlier news reports
Gun battle in reactor control room - Nuclear industry tries to censor the story
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

South Africa nuclear research facility admits to second break-in
http://www.democraticunderground.com/discuss/duboard.ph...

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jpak Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 08:28 AM
Response to Original message
3. Thanks Bananas for breaking and kicking this story
:toast:
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madokie Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 08:41 AM
Response to Original message
4. On the surface of it I would say heavily cheney/cia
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NNadir Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 10:18 AM
Response to Original message
5. There is, however, nothing baffling about South Africa's plan to sell coal to Germany.
Let's see. The number of people killed by radiation related events from this vast "tragedy": Zero.

Below, we'll refer to the current scientific literature, published just a few weeks ago, from the mortality from ships. Now, because ignorance has prevailed in Germany, and new nuclear power has been banned, Germany has contracted to buy hundred million ton quantities of coal from South Africa.

Just shipping it will kill tens of thousands of people, but in fact, the anti-nuke religion couldn't care less. Things like that just lead to calls for another whollop of Allen's Coffee Brandy.

It's pretty funny that we can get the paid (off) anti-nuke religion to go into a paroxysm of terror and fear from failed computer theft, resulting from a 451 word account from the NY Times. Somebody call Amory Lovins. It's the death knell of nuclear power in Africa!

We all know the NY Times and it's wonderful record on reporting on African nuclear issues. I mean how long as it been since little Scooter's girlfriend, Judy Miller, whipped a paraoxysm of murder by reporting that "Saddam Hussein is buying uranium in Niger!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!"

Oooooh boy. Other classics that have found their way in to the pages of the New York Times - which regularly reports the death of nuclear power - is the good ole' "plutonium is the most toxic substance known!" bit. The scientific source for this bit of powerful insight? Um, Ralph Nader. Ralph Nader's scientific research on the subject? Oh he didn't bother to do any research at all. In fact, he didn't know what he was talking about, so he made stuff up.

Now, there's a full scientific paper that goes with this abstract: http://pubs.acs.org/cgi-bin/sample.cgi/esthag/asap/abs/... and the paper has all sorts of maps showing Northern Europe as one of the most effected places, but let's not try to get the anti-nuke religion to look at science, since clearly science and religion don't mix.

The abstract in one sentence says it all:

Our results indicate that shipping-related PM emissions are responsible for approximately 60,000 cardiopulmonary and lung cancer deaths annually, with most deaths occurring near coastlines in Europe, East Asia, and South Asia. Under current regulation and with the expected growth in shipping activity, we estimate that annual mortalities could increase by 40% by 2012.


So we'll just pile this 24,000 additional deaths on the pile of deaths about which the anti-nuke religion couldn't care less.

Heckuva job, anti-nukes! Heckuva a job!

In fact, the anti-nukes remind me of claustrophobes, since their fears are irrational and personal and there is no talking them out of their fears because it's not about reality at all. However, those of us who are rational note that claustophobes do not go around vandalizing and destroying the little huts of poor people because the little huts induce such fear. Would that it were so for the anti-nukes, but no, the anti-nukes want everyone else to pay for their paranoia.

The conceit of the anti-nukes, a vicious murderous bunch if you cut away the window trappings and their little yuppie consumerist crapola, is that only nuclear energy need be risk free. They couldn't care less who dies because nuclear power is not used - and note - there is NOT ONE illiterate anti-nuke who can produce a case of a single death from nuclear power in Germany, never mind 10,000 such deaths per year. And mind you, I'm not even talking about the people who will die from burning the coal, but only the people who will die from delivering it to the anti-nuke Germans, who were inspired to kill by the paid (off) anti-nuke Gazprom executive Gerhard Schroeder.

There is no such thing, of course, as risk free energy. There is only risk minimized energy. That energy is nuclear energy.

There is really nothing more absurd than an anti-nuke evoking South Africa. Apparently the anti-nuke religion feels no shame, and that's pathetic.


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HamdenRice Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 12:06 PM
Response to Original message
6. South African reactors are weirdly non-secure
I used to pass Pelindaba frequently. When you drive between Johannesburg and Rustenburg (near the entertainment complex, Sun City), you pass Pelindaba. You can clearly see the facility from the highway on the horizon, maybe a half mile away, up a hill.

So every drunken tourist, casino gambler and adulterer (Sun City is a place to get away with your nyatsi ("spare tire" as they say in S.A.)) in Johannesburg knows where Pelindaba is. I believe white ANC guerillas led a second plot to attacke Pelindaba, but were thwarted.

Pelinidaba was attacked by the ANC guerillas in 1983. South Africa's other reactor, Koeberg, was successfully bombed by the ANC about ayear later, delaying its startup for over a year.

Since the end of apartheid, Koeberg has been attacked by environmental activists.

It seems to me these facilities are far from secure.
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losthills Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Nov-17-07 11:15 PM
Response to Reply #6
7. No nuclear reactors are "secure"
Securing them would bankrupt the stockholders.

As would safeguarding the waste that they produce....
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