After a long Environmental Impact Assessment which began in 2007, an Environmental Authorisation was issued for the Koeberg site, 26km north of Cape Town. This gave Eskom permission to build a new nuclear plant of unspecified design, plus a nuclear waste reprocessing and/or disposal site.
At first only 30 days were allowed for appeals against this decision, and this was extended on the day of the deadline to about 90 days, until 5th March 2017. There are so many reasons this Authorisation was wrong, and we tried to describe some of them in the 43 page submission we wrote.
The moves by current Ministers to restart the renewable energy programme is to be welcomed, as are statements that South Africa cannot afford nuclear energy “for now”. However, from a legal standpoint, if this Authorisation stands, it will be valid for ten years. Who will be Minister of Energy in 2028? Who will be our president? We don’t know of course, which is why this decision must be reversed now.
Our submission begins:
We would like to start by making an appeal to the Department to encourage the applicant to withdraw this application immediately. In the region of R30m has been spent to date on consultants during the EIA, as well as other extensive internal expenses for Eskom staff such as travel and accommodation. Eskom can ill afford this money, and it would be morally reprehensible to continue to throw good money after bad, when it is publicly accepted that Eskom cannot afford a nuclear plant and that the country currently has no need for the extra electricity. This is particularly true in light of the fact that Eskom relies on bailouts from government, which means that this pointless expenditure directly affects the ability of government to provide services to the poor.
What is more, from the detailed legal and scientific criticism contained in the many appeals against this authorisation, we believe it is fatally flawed and has no prospect of withstanding a judicial review. If Eskom or the Department are put in a position where they need to defend their position in court, that would be a significant additional waste of time and money in terms of legal fees and the likely costs order that will result.
Here is the full text of the appeal for those who would like some more detail: