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 to 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

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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

Appeal against Environmental Authorisation for Koeberg

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. 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

Is spent nuclear fuel recyclable?

I am sitting in a conference in Stockholm about nuclear waste. There are speakers from organisations from all over the world including the International Atomic Energy Agency, the Japan Atomic Energy Agency, delegates from many non-governmental organisation, engineers, and academics studying subjects such as nuclear physics, ethics, and geology.
Conference audience
Gene Rowe of the US Nuclear Waste Technical Review Board gave a highly technical presentation about the prospects of dealing with nuclear spent fuel in the USA via a combination of reprocessing and disposal. I got chatting to him afterwards, and asked him about a claim I have heard repeated many times in South Africa.

95% recyclable?

Continue reading