Earthlife Africa JhbJohannesburg, 22nd of September 2014- Yesterday it was announced that the Russian state nuclear vendor, Rosatom, will supply the South African government with eight new nuclear units to the capacity of 9600MW. The reactors will supposedly be ready for power production by 2030. The announcement arrives at a time when public distrust around the rumoured nuclear procurement deal has been gaining momentum in South Africa, mostly because of the secrecy with which the deal has been carried out in the highest corridors of power and because of the enormous costs involved. Besides these very pressing issues, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg also argues that the nuclear deal with Russia will spell disaster for the environment and for communities located close to the demarcated nuclear build sites.
After signing the deal, on behalf of the South African people, in Vienna-Austria Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Petterson stated that: “South Africa today, as never before, is interested in the massive development of nuclear power, which is an important driver for national economic growth”. Makoma Lekalakala, Senior Programme Manager, at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg however states that the environmental justice organization represents a large number of community based organizations who are opposed to the expansion of the nuclear energy programme in South Africa because of the historical inequality that nuclear power is associated with and because of the massive debt that the deal will burden future generations of South Africans with. Lekalakala reiterates that: “communities have been involved in constant protest against this proposed deal and so to claim that the South African public are interested in the development of nuclear power is a grave misrepresentation of the facts. In fact, communities are prepared to tackle the unfolding of this deal all the way to the Constitutional Court”.
The environmental justice organisation Earthlife Africa recently published a series of reports entitled “Pay more with nuclear” in which the world famous nuclear economist Professor Stephen Thomas from the University of Greenwich in the United Kingdom explains how the recently signed deal with Russia will entail grave consequences for the South African economy. Professeor Thomas further argues in the reports how the Russian designs are unlikely to meet with the required safety standards for nuclear power plants. Throughout the reports, Professor Thomas makes use of concrete examples to show how there are no examples of nuclear power plants currently being built worldwide which are either on time or to budget, so the claim that Rosatom will be able to build the proposed eight new reactors by 2030 and solve South Africa’s energy crisis is grossly overestimated. South Africa, and Eskom, are currently battling to complete two other energy mega infrastructure projects, Medupi and Kusile, at massive cost to the economy and the South African public.
The “Pay more with Nuclear” series is publicly available for download on the Earthlife Africa Johannesburg website.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:
Senior Programme Manager
Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Cell: +27 82 682 9177
Email: makoma [at] earthlife.org.za