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
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
Below is the formal submission made to the GIBB Consultants who are running the Environmental Impact Assessment on behalf of Eskom.
Its a long read, so those with limited time can use the contents to find areas of specific interest.
While its hard to choose, there are three items of particular concern.
The first is the practically non-existent assessment of the risk of earthquake damage (see point 1), and the potential impact this could have. Continue reading
Eskom and the Department of Energy have recently cranked up efforts to move forward with the plans for more nuclear energy for South Africa. In the Environmental Impact Assessment being prepared by GIBB consultants, the background to this includes a graph of the predicted peak electricity demand. Here is the graph they use, on page 2 of the latest combined main report, released in September 2015: Continue reading
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.
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