Before all, let us remember why we must not dispose of nuclear waste in deserts:
• Deserts are an ecosystem with its fauna and flora like forests, oceans, etc…
• Just because they are uninhabitable and far from the populated areas does not mean they are no part of the planet.
NASA says that 27 million tons of Sahara Sand make a trip across the Atlantic Ocean to the Amazon annually.
Not mentioning that nuclear substances can find their way to the underground water. The radioactive isotopes of uranium used in reactors and weapons have half-lives pretty much the age of our solar system, let alone any civilization.
Therefore, by no means deserts cannot serve as a nuclear landfill, it is not only affecting the African countries but also the whole globe.
“The nuclear waste in the desert” seems like a suspicious issue that lies in complete reticence since the Tunisian Government has been denying every allegation that claims it.
However, this denial seems to be tickling the constant concern of citizens to bring the truth out secrecy and to pop up new proofs.
Following the events of 2011, claims that “Tunisia is allowing the European countries to bury their nuclear waste in Tunisian Sahara” were circulating among the public opinion and doubting out the nature of some of the agreements that the Tunisian state has with other countries.
In the same context, Journalist Saber Yacoubi, the correspondent of the Italian newspaper “Notizeigeopolitiche“, discovered the presence of nuclear radiation in the Tunisian desert, specifically in the Ben Gilov area of the Hamamunicipality of Gabes that has a source of water up to 2000 meters underground.
The water supplies in the village of Ben Gilov are exploited to irrigate the agricultural lands that reach the borders of the mandate of Gabes as well as the states of Tataouine and Madenin to the Tunisian desert, the southernmost of Tataouine.
The report ensures on the existence of nuclear leaks in the region based on accurate scientific data and these results go along with the large number of cancer patients in the areas adjacent to the desert of Tataouine.
The international expert in the field of energy Mohamed Rowan said that these symptoms could be caused by nuclear radiation and that the region needs laboratory analysis from the IAEA to confirm or deny these conclusions.
Instead of starting an investigation about the nuclear radiations in the area, the journalist that issued up the news had his integrity and professional credibility questioned.
On the other hand, the President of the Society for the Protection of Environment and Sustainable Development in Tataouine announced in 2012:
We as a civil society and associations concerned with protecting the environment will stand firmly with Saber Yacoubi and call upon the government to immediately intervene and open an investigation on the issue of nuclear waste in Tunisia
Another researcher Abdallah Benaseed published an article in “The Civilized Dialogue” (Al-Hiwar Al-Mutamaden) blog on 12 February 2012 affirming that:
Since Tunisia is the closest country to the European Union, it turns to be a perfect landfill for its nuclear waste
Moreover, he gave the instance of a Swiss complex known as Global Wood Homing (GWH) established in 2010 in order to produce Wood from Kalatus trees in the Ramada region of Tataouine that according to him it was hiding other intentions far from being invested in the sector. He affirmed that this project aims to exploit the Tunisian desert for the disposal of nuclear waste.
It is 2019 and the issue does not seem to have further echo after its last emerge, even though it endangers the life of citizens in the south and consists a serious environmental peril on the short and long term.
The report of the World Commission on Environment and Development describes environmental rights as an individual right to be defended:
“All human beings have the fundamental right to an environment adequate for their health and well-being.”
As well as the Universal Declaration of Human Rights confirms that “Man has the fundamental right to freedom, equality and adequate conditions of life in an environment of a quality that permits a life of dignity and well-being and he bears a solemn responsibility to protect and improve the environment for present and future generations.”
“All people shall have the right to a general satisfactory environment favorable to their development” As issued in Article 24 of The African Charter.
Tunisia is not the only case dealing with the nuclear waste. In fact, the same danger keeps spreading forth in other African countries such as Algeria, Nigeria, Sudan, etc… For instance, as dated in the nuclear news web site, the living conditions of nomads in Nigeria has been tough: “Living atop an open-pit uranium mine has made the people ill, in ways they do not understand. Breathing radioactive dust, drinking contaminated well water, and sleeping between walls stitched from radioactive scrap metal and mud, the people tell stories to fill the gaps in their knowledge.”
Destining the Sahara to be a graveyard of nuclear waste is definitely a crime that we should fight against among the list of crimes threatening the Earth and the Humankind.