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November 28, 2014 | Last Updated 11:39 PM
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Oct 20 2011 1:10PM
 
Nuclear illness scourge
INSET: The entrance to the Nuclear Energy Corporation, north of Jo’burg. Picture: LEON SADIKI
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Mel Frykberg

Exposure to uranium at South African nuclear facilities over the years has left dozens of people dead and hundreds of others terminally ill, an investigation by The New Age has revealed.

“These nuclear workers have been used and abused like cannon fodder and then abandoned without any care or compensation when they were no longer of any use to the nuclear industry,” said Mashile Phalane, the former coordinator of Earthlife Africa (ELA).

ELA and the Pelindaba Working Group – comprising ­ex-employees and antinuclear activists – are leading the battle to get compensation for victims.

Former nuclear workers claim that they were not provided with protective clothing nor given the necessary medical attention when they were exposed to radiation.

Most claim they were given ­little or, in many cases, no financial compensation and in many cases were summarily dismissed once their symptoms became known.

The country’s nuclear watchdog, the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa), stands accused by activists involved in the long-running campaign to ensure justice for victims and their families, of destroying the lives of hundreds of ex-employees.

But Necsa CEO Rob Adam told The New Age: “Necsa does not provide compensation for health impairments. Instead, the company is registered with Coida (Compensation for Occupational Injuries and Diseases Act) and all employees who may wish to make any such claims can do so through Coida, which will then also provide any compensation.”

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