SA postpones nuclear deal as court case looms
Environmental lobbyist groups, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the South African Faith Communities Environment Institution (SAFCEI) filed an urgent application in court in order to stop a possible intergovernmental framework agreement between the Department of Energy and Russia, China, South Korea and the USA on the country’s planned nuclear development.
Minister Joemat-Pettersson announced her department’s intent to issue a request for proposal to confirm market appetite for the fleet of nuclear plants, so that the government can make an informed decision about a nuclear build programme.
She assured South Africans that the procurement process would be above board and that government would stick to a build programme it can afford.
This gives civil society time to research and develop material for or against nuclear energy. Those for nuclear energy maintain that to meet the increasing demand for energy , nuclear power is the only choice. Those against the use of nuclear power argue the following:
Greater industrial demand is the cause for the need for more power. It is time that industrialists begin to look at environmental issues and curb the unharnessed use and abuse of the world’s scarce resources. Curb industrial growth rather than increase power supply.
No safe and well considered plan has as yet come forth from nuclear scientists for the disposal of the toxic waste that nuclear energy produces. Without such a plan this can pose a huge problem to future generations.
We need to learn from the experiences of Japan and Russia and listen to the people who continue to suffer from the radiation and the pollution of their water.
Included in the suffering are thousands of people who live on islands in the vicinity of the area where nuclear experimentation has been carried out. Their testimonies reveal the acute suffering of the people and in particular their children who suffer from being born with defects, cancer and other ailments. We need to gather information and speak out now.
NUCLEAR POWER- A DISASTER FOR SOUTH AFRICA
In February 2015, the Mail & Guardian published an exposé of the South African government’s agreement with Rosatom, Russia’s State Nuclear Energy Corporation, to procure 9600 MW of nuclear power at a cost of R1 trillion. The agreement was leaked to Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the M&G by renowned environmentalist and staunch anti-nuclear campaigner,
Vladimir Slivyak who co-chairs Ecodefense, one of Russia’s oldest environmental NGOs. The M&G’s editorial described the agreement as “a lopsided, murky and legally fraught arrangement that hands most of the aces to Russia’s state-owned nuclear company and carries significant risks for South Africa.”
With South Africa in the grip of an electricity crisis, and load-shedding almost a daily occurrence, leading energy industry experts are scrambling for answers. Proponents of nuclear power maintain that it will provide safe and clean electricity; however others argue that nuclear power is too costly, dangerous, complicated and time-consuming to build, and will leave a legacy of toxic radioactive waste for thousands of years.
Vladimir Slivyak is a senior lecturer in environmental policy at the Higher School of Economics (HSE) in Moscow, a leading Russian university. He is author of ‘From Hiroshima to Fukushima’ which chronicles the 2011 Japanese nuclear catastrophe at Fukushima Daiichi and describes the Russian nuclear industry’s lack of preparedness for similar accidents. He has also written over 300 articles on environmental and energy issues, which have been published in both the Russian and international media.