Environment Minister Barbara Creecy is expected to make a final decision on granting Eskom permission to build a new nuclear plant in Duynefontein. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)
Environment Minister Barbara Creecy is expected to make a final decision on granting Eskom permission to build a new nuclear plant in Duynefontein. File picture: African News Agency (ANA)

Eskom accused of pushing for new nuclear plant at Koeberg

By Lisa Isaacs Time of article published Apr 9, 2021

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Cape Town – Civil organisations have slammed Eskom’s response to the Nuclear-1 Environmental Authorisation (EA) appeal over permission to build a new nuclear plant at the Koeberg site.

Eskom released its response to the EA appeal on April 1, marking the last step before Environment Minister Barbara Creecy is expected to make a final decision on granting Eskom permission to build a new plant in Duynefontein, the Koeberg Alert Alliance said.

They charged that Eskom’s response contained misinformation and pushed for a new nuclear build, overriding the country’s energy plan, the Integrated Resource Plan of 2019 (IRP 2019).

The alliance said in 2007 Eskom planned to build three large nuclear plants in South Africa for which an Environmental Impact Assessment process was required by law.

The first Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was completed by 2010 and submitted to the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA).

The EIR was revised three times and in 2017 the DEA Minister granted an EA for a plant at the Koeberg site prompting organisations and individuals to appeal the decision by the deadline in March 2018.

In July last year, the DEA issued an invitation for supplementary submissions as the 2010 IRP had since been replaced by the Integrated Resource Plan 2019.

While the parastatal did not respond to questions yesterday, in its appeal response, Eskom submits that “it would be procedurally unfair and prejudicial for an appeal authority to treat the IRP 2019 as a relevant consideration to its decision whether to uphold or to dismiss the appeal”.

“The dictates of fairness and the entrenched presumption against retrospectivity suggest that new facts and laws that arise subsequent to the final submission of an application should not be judged or measured against those subsequent facts and laws. This would lead to an absurd result where the goal post would continuously shift, discouraging certainty and investment in development.”

In publishing the IRP 2019, Cabinet clearly believed that a nuclear programme could be implemented in a flexible and cost-effective manner, Eskom said.

“The IRP 2019 recognises additional nuclear capacity of 2500MW contributing to the South African energy mix. The country’s policy-makers have taken a decision to go ahead with nuclear, as part of South Africa’s energy mix. It is not for Eskom or the DEFF to question the policy-makers’ decision.”

They also argued that nuclear energy did not emit greenhouse gases.

Koeberg Alert Alliance spokesperson Peter Becker said: “The entire EIA depended on the need and desirability of the project as outlined in the IRP 2010. This has changed in the IRP 2019, and it is ridiculous that Eskom are trying to convince us that a decision should be made based on an 11-year-old plan.”

Richard Halsey, a researcher at Project 90 by 2030, said there was no evidence to back up the need for a new nuclear plant.

“All objective energy modelling points in the opposite direction, indicating that new nuclear is not an optimal or least-cost option for South Africa,” said Halsey.

Earthlife Africa’s programmes officer, Ulrich Steenkamp, said nuclear energy was not the answer to climate change as it was completely carbon intensive.

Cape Times

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