SA destined to go nuclear

electricitySouth Africa is destined to get more nuclear power stations as means of electricity generation as part of the Integrated Resources Plan.

It is envisaged that 9 600 megawatt of electricity will be generated in this manner by 2030 but nuclear power stations are not universally welcomed, especially after the Fukushima disaster in Japan.

These issues will be on the agenda of the Nuclear Industry Association’s (Niasa) annual convention starting in Port Elizabeth on Wednesday but even more significant is that Thyspunt, a 90-minute drive from Port Elizabeth is the preferred site for South Africa’s second nuclear-fuelled electricity plant.

Over the past six years, the proposed nuclear power station for Thyspunt has been opposed on several grounds. These include environmental, cultural and agricultural.

A third draft Environmental Impact Assessment is due to be released by Eskom in October which will then re-ignite the public participation progress.

Those opposing the building of a nuclear power station at Thyspunt are very concerned about the lack of transparency in the process.

“This site was selected by the previous regime by the apartheid Government. It would have been really great if we could start the selection process again in the new South Africa which would have been more inclusive and would look more at the situation that it is at the moment,” says the Thyspunt Alliance’s Trudi Malan.

She says that they are greatly concerned by the fact that it seems that Eskom is not really paying attention to what they are being told about this specific site at Thyspunt.

The Niasa convention will also be looking at the potential economic developments surrounding the implementation of the nuclear programme in South Africa.

The technologies used are foreign based but the potential for job creation is based in the construction phase creating cautious optimism for organised business.

“We have companies that are in the energy space and in the engineering and manufacturing space. We advocate for them to get an opportunity on such a big plant. It is complicated in one sense but it still works with bolts and nuts and pipes and valves. The point is also to demystify such a plant that it is not as complicated sometimes as it gets presented,” says Nelson Mandela Bay business Chamber’s Mandla Madwara.

A second nuclear power station for South Africa is not a done deal yet and indications are that the court will probably have the last say as those opposing nuclear power say they will take it all the way. – SABC