North West Tourist AttractionsThe Pelindaba Visitor Centre
South African Nuclear Energy Corporation's flagship facility, Pelindaba, lies in the midst of Hartbeespoort's hills, home to the Safari-1 reactor - the biggest of its kind on the continent.
Where? The Visitor's Centre is located on the Pelindaba Site at Necsa near the Hartbeespoort Dam
When? Booking is required
How? Call +27 (0)12 305-5266
How much? Entrance if free
It was also the apartheid regime's top secret. Now you can visit it. Well, not the facility itself, but certainly the new visitors' centre, set up to 'demystify' nuclear energy.
The centre includes a nuclear science education exhibition, a conference facility and learning facilities, and is aimed at school learners, scientists and researchers, as well as industry partners and the general public. The centre has been described as 'highly interactive, built with the intention of bringing science to the fingertips of individual learners' based on five themes – energy, nuclear science, radiation, reactors and waste. It is designed to take two groups of 25 learners a day with the intention of reaching 10 000 learners a year.
Pelindaba is regarded as the country's major atomic research installation. It also 'dopes' roughly 20 tons of silicon a year for international companies. 'Doping' (irradiating silicon, thus changing its behaviour) improves silicon's conductivity. The silicon is then used in microchips for electronic components.
Pelindaba is involved in the production of molybdenum-99, used in medical nuclear diagnostics (nuclear medicine – using radioactive substances in the diagnosis and treatment of disease).
Pelindaba is where South Africa's atomic bombs of the 1970s were developed, constructed and stored. It is also the site of the famous 'armed attack' of November 2007, when four armed men actually managed to enter the facility, making their way over a 10 000 volt electrical fence and through other layers of top security. Despite being 'caught' on camera, they have never been found.