On November 29 2016 the Portfolio Committee on Energy was given a presentation by the Department of Energy (DOE) on the progress of the South African nuclear build programme. For some reason, the minister of energy, the Director General of the department and the Director General for nuclear energy chose not to attend, and instead sent the Deputy Director General for nuclear energy, Mr Zizamele Mbambo.
The presentation included a list of sixteen consultancy contracts that have been awarded by the DOE. First prize for the most lucrative contract is a tie between Mahlako-A-Phahla Investments and Central Lake Trading 149, at about R1.7 million per week! Continue reading
In South Africa there are few, if any, more vocal proponents of nuclear power than Kelvin Kemm, recently appointed chair of the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (NECSA) board.
Kemm was a proponent of the Pebble Bed reactor project (PBMR), which turned into an expensive failure for South African tax payers, who funded the project for somewhere around R10 billion. Most of that went to salaries and consulting fees for those in the industry such as Kemm.
A local investigative magazine, Noseweek, did a bit of digging into Kemm, and came up with a lot of information about CFACT, or the Committee For A Constructive Tomorrow, which is a sugar coated name for a lobby group funded by oil and coal companies.
Hired to head CFACT was Marc Morano, an expert at disinformation. Continue reading
This is according to the World Nuclear Association, which describes itself as “the only international industry organisation with a global mandate to communicate about nuclear energy”, and has members which include Rosatom, the Russian nuclear power company, as well as Areva of France, KEPCO of Korea, and many others. Continue reading
The nuclear industry is losing the battle for the hearts and minds of the public, and has been suffering from sharply declining sales since even before Fukushima. One response has been to hire high profile lobbyists to paint nuclear power as ‘perfectly safe’. Unfortunately, sometimes journalists who are not too good at fact or background checking, such as our own Matthew le Cordeur, regurgitate the point of view put forward by these lobbyists, and write ‘articles’ such as this one (which I dealt with in detail in this post).
One well known figure who has come out in support of nuclear power is Patrick Moore, who famously misrepresents himself as a ‘founder’ of Greenpeace. Here is a short clip in which he sings the praises of a client (a company which runs a nuclear plant in the USA). He says that “nuclear industry is actually one of the very safest industries”. Continue reading
The Koeberg nuclear plant near Cape Town requires about thirty tons of uranium fuel per year. Unlike a fuel such as coal, this uranium is not burnt up. It undergoes a nuclear reaction, which transforms it into other elements, some of which are highly radioactive. Burning or any other chemical process does not reduce the radioactivity.
That means that over thirty tons of spent nuclear fuel (SNF) are removed from the reactors each year. So far over a million kilograms of this SNF (over 2000 fuel elements) have accumulated since Koeberg began operating in 1984.
Before approval for a nuclear plant can be granted, by law an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) has to be done and submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).
The EIA for the so called ‘Nuclear-1’ project has been in progress for over six years, and the fourth and final draft of the resulting report was eventually submitted to the DEA in early 2016.
This report is of a low scientific standard, and should be rejected by the DEA.
We have made submissions on each draft to the EIA consultants, GIBB, which have been largely ignored, and have not resulted in the changes to the EIA report we hoped for.
We have therefore written to the DEA giving reasons why we believe they should reject this report.
To see our submission, including a short summary, click here: KAA Submission to DEA
These are desperate times for the nuclear industry. Rising costs, the ongoing nightmare of the Fukushima clean up, the phasing out of nuclear power by some countries, fewer new orders every year, and dramatic cost and time overruns for the few projects under way makes new nuclear a very hard sell indeed.
And in South Africa, the star of the nuclear lobby, President Zuma, has become a falling star. Other senior ANC members have begun loudly denouncing his ties to corporate interests, in the form of the Guptas, including uranium mining.
Like the thrashing of a dying beast, the industry has been churning out press releases and placed articles at a frantic pace. In South Africa, the Nuclear Industry Association of South Africa (NIASA) has in the past paid people such as Andrew Kenny and Dawid Serfontein to pen articles for the local press promoting nuclear power. Continue reading