A National Nuclear Decommissioning Policy?

On 20 July 2020, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) released a Discussion Paper on National Decommissioning Policy for Nuclear Facilities.

This was a well balanced document which went into some detail, and proposed various decommissioning strategies. It posed 10 questions which covered liability and security for decommissioning costs, strategies, and research needed.

The actual costs of decommissioning the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, including final disposal of the spent fuel (so far over 1.5 million kilograms),  are unknown. If South Africa had followed the Swedish model with a levy on nuclear power Eskom should have accumulated a fund of about R170bn by now. Instead, Eskom is R450bn in debt. Continue reading

Nuclear-1 EIA revived with ‘Supplemental Submission’ period

The Nuclear-1 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a large new nuclear plant at the Koeberg site was given the go ahead in 2017, resulting in many appeals against this decision.  After three years of silence, the Department sent out a notice to appellants in July 2020, inviting a supplemental submission.

The EIA was based heavily on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010, which included projections of strong economic growth and vastly increased electricity demand by 2020, and hence the need for nuclear power stations. Recently the IRP 2019 was released, which took into account the actual electricity demand, and so delayed any possible need for new nuclear power to beyond 2030.

Despite the length of time that has passed with the EIA process in limbo, the Department have told us that interested parties may not make submissions now, unless they also submitted a formal appeal in 2017. The deadline for submissions is 3 September 2020, although this may be extended. Continue reading

Koeberg Emergency Plan conflicts with COVID-19 regulations

Koeberg Population Density Map

Nuclear-1 EIA App E18

A nuclear incident requiring an evacuation around Koeberg would have a significant effect on the spread of COVID-19. During an evacuation, social distancing will not be followed as people pack into any available transport. Travel restrictions will either be suspended by the government, or overridden by the public possibly with bloodshed. No roadblock can stop 80 000 panicking people! Continue reading

Government Officials Continue to Divert Funds to the Nuclear Industry

It has long been suspected that the only motivation behind pushing for nuclear power in South Africa has been corruption via State Capture, coming from then President Jacob Zuma. Details of this are emerging at the Zondo commission into State Capture where it has been testified that a Minister of Finance was fired specifically because he would not ignore the realities of the cost of nuclear power, and so refused tos sign off on the nuclear deal.

Despite this, and despite Zuma being removed from office, there are disturbing signs that there are still those in positions of power who are pushing for taxpayers’ money to be given to the nuclear industry.

Continue reading

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

Title page of response from Eskom to the KAA appeal

Back in 2007, Eskom began an Environmentam fcl Impact Assessment (EIA) for building a lar.ge 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

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