What was once suspected has finally become reality. Instead of the preferred site of Thyspunt, the Department of Environmental Affairs has approved an environmental authorisation for up to 4,000MW of nuclear power at the current Koeberg site just outside Cape Town.

The department cites increasing need for base-load power and that nuclear energy is in the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), as reasons for approving the environmental impact assessment. Yet Eskom’s tariff application shows that electricity demand is declining and the IRP has been criticised, with reputable institutes such as the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) showing that nuclear energy is not needed.

Apart from a flimsy economic justification (no substantive assessment of “need and desirability”, as required by environmental law), other fatal flaws in Eskom’s final environmental impact report include:

• An unscientific failure to disclose the actual reactor technology to be assessed;

• An inadequate assessment of the emergency planning for the Koeberg site;

• An unacceptable containment of high-level (used fuel) waste on the Koeberg site;

• A complete failure to assess the plans for decommissioning the reactor; and

• An absence of a final plan for long-term nuclear waste management.

We therefore call on all South Africans to unite behind the Coalition Against Nuclear Energy (www.cane.org.za) and the Koeberg Alert Alliance in defence of an administratively unjust and unacceptable version of the environmental authorisation.

We further call on our fellow citizens to campaign to defeat once and for all the national pro-nuclear energy policy, as we did with the ill-conceived HIV/AIDS policy.

Mike Kantey National chairman, Coalition Against Nuclear Energy