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Bizarre nuclear dreams at resort press briefing

Bizarre nuclear dreams at resort press briefing

Jul 15, 2015

By Earthlife Africa Jhb

Johannesburg, 14th of July 2015 ~ The Department of Energy today called a press briefing to discuss the Intergovernmental Framework Agreements that have now finally been submitted to parliament, after a long standing battle to obtain them by opposition parties, civil society and NGOs.

Despite the enormous importance of the decision to embark on South Africa’s most expensive procurement to date, the press briefing was held at the exclusive Zimbali Resort off the North coast of KwaZulu- Natal. The isolated and exclusive venue made it difficult for journalists to attend, providing further evidence that the planned nuclear build is being arranged behind closed doors and is coming to be through fraudulent and unconstitutional promises.

Earthlife Africa Jhb is particularly disturbed at the Department of Energy’s announcement, at the press briefing today, that KwaZulu-Natal will also be host to future nuclear reactors. This contravenes Eskom’s lengthy “Nuclear Site Investigation Programme (NSIP)” completed in 1982, the EIA documentation for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (2008), and the EIA documentation for Nuclear-1 (2010 to date) that identified only sites outside of KwaZulu-Natal as being suitable for nuclear reactors.

In fact, Parliament’s Select Committee on Economic Development clearly stated on the 2nd of August 2011, and referring to the NSIP, that for KwaZulu-Natal, “No suitable sites were identified, due to the high population density and regional seismic activity.”

Although the government flatly denies it, the Intergovernmental Framework Agreements under discussion show a clear bias to the Russian state owned enterprise (Rosatom) as the already preferred bidder. There is much more detail in the Russian agreement than in the others and it suspiciously already includes details of the governments nuclear build plan, which the other agreements do not.

During the briefing the Department of Energy confirmed that it had completed it’s finance models for the proposed build, but that it could not divulge this information with the public for strategic reasons. But, as nuclear experts such as Vladimir Slivyak from the Russian based environmental organisation Ecodefense claims, “ All these nuclear announcements from the South African government are premature given that it is still not even clear who will finance the planned nuclear build at an estimated cost of R1 trillion. Russia is in deep economic crisis, and is unlikely to be able to cough up that kind of money.”

Department of Energy’s deputy director general, Zizemele Mbambo, was also clear on the idea that South Africa was not, “purchasing a power plant – we will be procuring an industry and strategically localise the entire value chain to become self-sufficient in the long term”.

Yet, according to Dominique Doyle, Energy Policy Officer at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, the idea of a nuclear industry makes no sense. “Worldwide the nuclear industry is in decline, so why would South Africa want to generate development off of a heavily subsidised and failing market. The contribution of nuclear in the world’s primary energy dropped from 8% in 2000 to only about 4,6% in 2012. There are better ways to invest, like in the growing market for cheaper renewable energy.”

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