The government’s determination to build 9,600MW of atomic energy regardless of varying cheaper options proves that the nuclear policy is only politically motivated and not economically rational.  Rather disturbingly, he believes that: “To succeed in compelling the government to reverse its determination to expand atomic power will require a multi-pronged campaign of the same magnitude as the one that forced the government to reverse its policy of treating HIV/AIDs with beetroot instead of medicines.”  K. Gottschalk, professor of political science, University of the Western Cape in: http://www.bdlive.co.za/opinion/2015/02/25/atomic-power-is-least-sensible-option

A number of civil society organisations including SAFCEI (Southern African Faith Communities Environmental Institute), EarthLife Africa and Green Peace are raising awareness about the risks of nuclear energy for South Africa and are challenging the relevant governmental officials.  Greenpeace is taking the Minister of Energy to court over negotiating deals when our nuclear liability legislation and prescribed liability `insurance’ is hopelessly out of date.  According to Greenpeace the disaster liability for Koeberg is R2.8 billion.  The estimated costs for the Fukushima disaster are R450 billion and rising. Legal counsel for SAFCEI and EarthLife Africa have sent both the Minister of Public Works and of Energy legal letters asking for proof of a mandate to make deals with nuclear contractors and for access to the deals already signed. However, if Prof. Gottschalk is correct about political motives being the driver of President Zuma’s push for nuclear power, then the rest of civil society needs to act to stop the process going any further.  These secretive dealings are threatening our democracy with a meltdown.

If you are still uncertain about the implications of nuclear energy for South Africa, here are five compelling reasons to keep at your fingertips from SAFCEI’s  Nuclear Vigil Pamphlet:

WHY NUCLEAR IS A NO-GO.

 1 We don’t need nuclear to keep the lights on. Medupi and Kusile the 3rd and 4th largest coal fired power stations in the world will provide our base load requirements in a few years for decades to come.

2 We need electricity now. Nuclear power stations take 10 – 20 years to build.  Wind and solar farms take 1 to 2 years to build and provide affordable electricity without the environmental and health costs of nuclear. “Energy from South Africa’s first wind and solar projects created R800 million in net financial benefits in 2014.” (CSIR)

3 Nuclear centralizes power and provides few sustainable jobs. Renewable energy (wind, solar, hydro) brings power to the people with smaller localized stations. They empower thousands of citizens through job creation and build technical capacity in manufacturing, construction, operation and spin-off industries.

4 Nuclear power is unaffordable (without subsidies). Right now the private sector is installing wind and solar, risk free to citizens and selling electricity cheaper than the projected cost for electricity from Medupi. Consumers are also investing in renewables and energy efficiency. Unable to compete, nuclear power is likely to become a white elephant. How will South Africa repay foreign loans for nukes?

5 Nuclear power and uranium mining leave a lethal legacy. Uranium mines have high environmental & human health costs. Nuclear power plants and spent fuel are a high risk and costly legacy for generations.

For an up to date overview of community actions lead by SAFCEI go to:

http://safcei.org/nuclear-energy-bad-for-state-of-our-nation/

Kim Kruyshaar 5 March 2015