The DA has called for the “secretive and unaffordable nuclear deal” to be scrapped as it emerges that the Environment Impact Assessments (EIAs) conducted to assess and predict the environmental consequences of chosen nuclear build sites – and which are necessary by law – are outdated and obsolete, and cannot be used in support of the proposed trillion rand nuclear build programme.

Gordon Mackay, Shadow Minister of Energy, says: “This is yet another reason why Minister of Energy, Tina Joematt-Pettersson, must move to scrap this secretive and unaffordable nuclear deal once and for all.”

He adds that the information about the EIAs came to light in a reply to a DA parliamentary question in which the Minister of Energy revealed that the EIA’s – which are needed before construction can begin – were carried out for only three of the proposed sites by Eskom between 2007 and 2008.

“The DA has reviewed the existing EIAs and we have noted deficiencies in at least two respects,” Mackay says.
“Firstly, the EIA’s have only assessed the suitability and environmental impact of High Pressurized Water Reactors, a technology currently being used at South Africa’s sole nuclear site at Koeberg.

“The EIAs have not considered technology being offered by other bid vendors such as Rossatom’s AES 2006 reactor. This reactor, the VVER, is a water to water pressurised rector and differs materially from the design evaluated by the EIA. Adoption of technology from vendor nations with designs deviating from Koeberg’s would therefore be ill advised and invalid.

“Secondly, the EIA was conducted when the power utility was planning on expanding its nuclear generating fleet through the nuclear-1 project – a much smaller, single site project which does not compare to the current proposed build programme,” Mackay explains.

“Indeed, the Environmental Consultants who did carry out the EIA indicated that the evaluation was only for a single nuclear power station of a maximum of 4 000 MW.”

He quotes that report, which reads: “In spite of the above-mentioned broad recommendations regarding the number of power stations that could potentially be constructed at each site, it must be emphasized that the current application is for a single nuclear power station of a maximum of 4 000 MW. The cumulative impacts of any additional nuclear power stations on a particular site (if authorised) would have to be confirmed in a new EIA process prior to any further development.”

This is significantly less than the current nuclear build programme, which is estimated at 9600MW, more than double the maximum of 4000 MW stipulated in the EIA, Mackay points out. “The report also makes it quite clear – anything above 4000MW would have to be confirmed in a new EIA process prior to any further development.
“The fact that the Minister is trying to distort South Africa’s legislative processes, in this way, is deeply concerning,” he adds.

“It is now increasingly clear that the proposed trillion rand nuclear deal is ill-thought out, and rushed, and should not be pursued. The Minister must now put her pride aside, and do what is right: scrap the deal, once and for all.”