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
Will South Africa be able to raise the money to purchase a nuclear power reactor? Probably not. The Treasury recently admitted that it has done no costing or affordability study for nuclear power, and the 2015 budget made it clear that no money has been allocated for the next three years.
And every year, prospects get bleaker for the nuclear industry…
In addition, the falling value of the Rand, and the constantly increasing dollar cost of nuclear plants make it less affordable for South Africa with each year that passes. But just because the train will never reach its destination, that doesn’t mean you can’t get aboard and enjoy the gravy! Continue reading
It has been a long and difficult road for those promoting nuclear power as a solution to South Africa’s electricity needs. Recently, so much has gone wrong for the nuclear lobby it is hard to imagine how it could be worse: Continue reading
At a conference in Stockholm in November one of the speakers was Shigeo Nomura, Executive Director of the Japan Atomic Energy Agency.
Nomura made some contradictory statements about the Fukushima disaster, as well as some outlandish claims about the costs of nuclear power relative to renewable energy.
It was the tsunami?
I am in Upsala, Sweden, as a guest of the Swedish Society for Nature Conservation (SSNC). It has nearly 200 000 paying members, a full-time staff of about 90, and produces a magazine every two months for its members. It has been an interesting first day in Stockholm, with a lot to take in.
Sweden generates about half of its electricity from nuclear power, and, like all countries with nuclear power, the country is wrestling with the issue of what to do with the spent nuclear fuel, or in technical terms, the high level waste. This remains dangerously radioactive for thousands of years, and disposing of it safely is a huge engineering challenge. Continue reading
An independent in depth report on the Fukushima nuclear disaster commissioned by the Japanese parliament was released in July 2012, and it comes to some very important conclusions. As Eskom attempts to get approval to build three more nuclear plants along the southern coast, South Africa should be looking very closely at this report to see if there are lessons we should learn from it.
The earthquake or the tsunami?
The tsunami swamping the sea barrier at Fukushima
The nuclear industry has repeatedly made the claim Continue reading
First published in Business Day, 23 July 2012
The nuclear power industry is deeply troubled, with little cause for optimism. There is growing worldwide public resistance to nuclear power stations, President Obama has terminated government subsidies in the USA for nuclear power, and Germany and Switzerland have committed to shutting down all their reactors. While the renewable energy industry has seen dramatic growth and constantly falling costs, the nuclear industry grapples with spiralling costs, the seemingly intractable waste disposal issue, and the ongoing huge economic and human costs of the Fukushima nuclear disaster.
It is not unusual for those who favour nuclear power to downplay the effects of nuclear disasters that have happened. In the article “Nuclear power is a key part of SA’s future”, attributed to the South African Minister of Energy Dipuo Peters, I came across this example: ‘The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) mission to Fukushima at the end of May 2011 concluded that “to date no confirmed long-term health effects to any person have been reported as a result of radiation exposure from the nuclear accident”‘. Continue reading