Response from Eskom to our appeal against the Environmental Authorisation for Koeberg Nuclear site

Title page of response from Eskom to the KAA appealBack in 2007, Eskom began an Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for building a large new nuclear power plant on the Koeberg site, about 28km north of Cape Town.  Ten years later, after many drafts and submissions, the Department of Environmental Affairs issued an Environmental Authorisation for the project to go ahead.  Many organisations appealed this decision, and Eskom was required to respond in detail to the content of each of those appeals, which they have now done (in August 2018).

Many of these responses were combined into one document, which has been widely distributed.  However, KAA received the following 115 page specific response.  There has not been time to go through it in detail yet, but it is published below to give you all the opportunity to have a look through it and pass it on to others.

Paging through it, a few bits stood out for me.

A tourism plus…
In a show of optimism regarding possible impacts of tourism, Eskom writes “Some nuclear power stations have a positive effect on tourism, as tourists visit specifically to see the stations.”  Continue reading

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Extension Granted for Appeal Against Nuclear-1 Authorisation

On 11 October 2017 the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) issued an authorisation to Eskom for a second nuclear power plant at Koeberg, 28km north of Cape Town City centre.  This was in response to a final Environmental Impact Report submitted to the Department by Gibb (Pty) Ltd on behalf of Eskom, the applicant.

Please sir, may we have some more time?
We wrote to the Department on 30 October, requesting an extension of the 30 day appeal period, which was set to expire on 1 December 2017. Continue reading

Koeberg authorised to be Cape Town’s permanent radioactive waste dump

On 11 October 2017 the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) issued an authorisation to Eskom for a second nuclear power plant at Koeberg, 28km north of Cape Town City centre.  It came with a surprise.  The Department also authorised the “construction of facilities or infrastructure, including associated structures or infrastructure for … disposal of nuclear fuels, radioactive products and waste.

Waste disposal not part of project…
You would have been surprised if you had studied the final Environmental Impact Report (EIR) because it gave the impression this was not about waste disposal. Continue reading

Cape Town nuclear build approved by Dept Environment

Before any major development, South African law requires a detailed Environmental Impact Assessment to be submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs before the project may begin.  In 2009, Gibb consulting submitted a scoping report for such a study on behalf of Eskom, with a view to building a large nuclear power plant.

During the public participation process Koeberg Alert, as well as many other organisations, scientists and members of the public submitted extensive and detailed comments on the report, and in particular the poor quality of the specialist reports. Continue reading

Government neglects nuclear waste

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.

Continue reading

Nuclear-1 Submission to Dept of Environmental Affairs

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

Earthquakes and Nuclear

As South Africa contemplates building nuclear power stations along the coast, consultants from GIBB have been given the job of assessing the potential impacts of doing this.  This includes looking at the risks.

Photograph of crack in road in Ceres caused by earthquake

Damage in Ceres from 1969 quake

One obvious risk is that of an earthquake damaging the nuclear reactor, as happened in 2011 in Fukushima.  To assess this risk, GIBB produced a specialist report in 2011 (i.e. done before Fukushima) titled “Appendix E4: Seismic Risk Assessment”. Continue reading