Press Release: Women unite against nuclear procurement

Earthlife Africa Jhb

Johannesburg, 18th of March, 2015- In celebration of International Women’s Week 2015, Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Women Energy and Climate Change Forum (WECCF) are heading to the Department of Energy to protest against the secretive nuclear procurement deal with Russian state owned nuclear cooperation- Rosatom. The women will gather at the Department of Energy, located at No. 192 corner Visagie and Paul Kruger street in Pretoria at 10H30 am on the 19th March 2015. Through the protest ordinary South African women, who will carry the greatest burden of expensive nuclear generated electricity, wish to challenge Minister of Energy Tina Joematt-Pettersson on her poor energy planning choices and on her lack of dedication to provide the nation’s women with cost-effective and safe electricity.

Senior Programme Manager at Earthlife Africa Johannesburg, Makoma Lekalakala, explains that the protest is not necessarily about the women themselves but that its about the legacy that they will leave for their children: “Sure, we will pay for the build through increased taxes and electricity tariffs; but our children will pay the real price of a delayed nuclear build (which will inevitably happen),the burden of a nuclear disaster and the costs of decommissioning which are currently rendering the viability of nuclear energy null and void world wide”

Ms Lekalakala further explains that if the nuclear procurement progresses South Africa will be committing future generations to risky relationships with foreign powers and highly radioactive waste that will remain contaminated for hundreds of thousands of years.

The women would also like to encourage the Minister of Energy to reply to, or in the least acknowledge receipt of, a letter written to the Ministry by Earthlife Africa Johannesburg in February 2015. In the letter the minister was asked to clarify how plans for nuclear procurement can be continuing in the absence of a legal energy planning framework. Under South African law, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) for electricity is required to be revised every two years. Yet the IRP 2013 update, which advised against nuclear, is being ignored by the government which is using the IRP 2010 as its policy support document to procure nuclear reactors valued at R1 trillion. The women argue that their needs as the primary decision makers of households have not been considered in national energy planning, and demand an opportunity to participate in the process.

The protest coincides with the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa’s (NECSAs) 50th anniversary celebration of the Safari 1 research nuclear reactor at Pelindaba near Atteridgeville in Pretoria. But, as Earthlife Africa Johannesburg’s Programme Officer Lerato Maregele explains: “The 50th anniversary of Safari 1 is nothing to be proud of; the reactor has passed its sell by date and needs to be shut down. While the reactor is celebrated for producing medical isotopes for cancer treatment, the illness that it brought to black workers at Pelindaba during apartheid remains unresolved”.

It is rumoured that NECSA is currently operating at a loss of R87 million per month. Money which would far better be spent on providing basic health care to women and children.

CONTACTS:
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg:

Lerato Maregele
Programmes Officer
Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Cell: +27 72 157 2155
Email: lerato[at]earthlife.org.za
Skype name: lerato maregele

Makoma Lekalakala
Senior Programme Manager
Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Cell: +27 82 682 9177
Email: makoma[at]earthlife.org.za

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