Nuclear secrecy biggest worry for Fin24 user

Published on Fin24 on 30th November

A Fin24 user says South Africa’s planned nuclear build programme would be a financial, environmental, and ethical disaster.

His comments come ahead of the Nuclear Supply Chain Conference South Africa and as Russia’s state-owned nuclear company Rosatom is seen as the front runner to lead the 9 600 megawatt nuclear energy build programme from 2023 to 2030.

Leading businesses which stand to benefit if the deal goes ahead will this week to explore ways of benefiting from the R1trn industry.

Commenting on Nomura emerging markets economist Peter Attard Montalto observation that Eskom’s balance sheet remained “exceptionally weak” and that nuclear energy was unfeasible, Fin24 user Richard Halseysaid news about the nuclear conference being held in Cape Town “should send chills down our spines”.

He writes: “Why is the government still pursuing this idea? Which individuals and corporations stand to benefit? Why is information being withheld?

No single letter can address all the problems inherent with nuclear power, so I will just touch on one: secrecy.

Our Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, clearly has a lead role as she has been signing deals with prospective vendor countries. The International Atomic Energy Agency completed a study to assess how ready South Africa is for an expansion of nuclear power.

Ms Joemat-Pettersson has been in possession of the document for months, but has not released it. I sat in parliament while she repeatedly avoided answering questions about the release of the report.

This is clearly intentional secrecy, and we must ask why. Does the report indicate that we are not ready to take on more nuclear energy? Does it indicate severe safety concerns? Does it indicate insufficient resources to deal will radioactive waste? Well, we don’t know, because the document has been kept secret.

My letter to the chairperson of the Portfolio Committee on Energy regarding the report remains unanswered.

This lack of transparency around the nuclear programme is one of the reasons why Earthlife Africa Jhb (ELA-Jhb) and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institution (SAFCEI) are taking the Minister, and others, to court over the nuclear plans.

These groups, other civil society organisations and concerned citizens such as myself, want transparent, inclusive and accountable decision-making in the energy sector. We want the best energy choice for both people and planet.

If, like me, you get to a point when you say ‘enough is enough’, then do something about it. In whatever way you can. Politicians and business leaders will always push their agendas. It is time we pushed back. Make your voice heard.”

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