Russian activist Vladimir Slivyak and American activist Chris Williams

DURBAN: Two international anti-nuclear activists visited Durban on Saturday to educate the community on the harmful effects of nuclear energy. They highlighted why South Africans must continue to oppose its proliferation in our country.

Russian activist Vladimir Slivyak and American activist Chris Williams claim African countries are “easy targets” for nuclear reactor companies who have wanted to sell the idea of nuclear energy, as more Western countries oppose it.

Slivyak, a member of the Russian environmental organisation Ecodefense, has been an environmental and energy activist since 1989. Williams, a long time sustainable energy policy activist, is currently the Vermont USA organiser for the Citizens Awareness Network.

These activists have already been to Joburg and Port Elizabeth where they visited rural communities near a proposed nuclear site to educate them about what nuclear energy was and what it would mean for them if it were introduced.

In Durban yesterday, Slivyak and Williams spoke at an event at St Paul’s Church. Recently Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute challenged the government’s nuclear deals with Russia, the US and South Korea.

In April, judgment was delivered in the Cape Town High Court and these deals were set aside and declared unlawful and unconstitutional. In a press briefing yesterday morning Slivyak and Williams emphasised the need for South Africa to distance itself from nuclear energy and said renewable energy was the way of the future.

“South Africa has enough sun as well as wind. There are other alternatives like solar and wind energy which is now becoming the way of the future. When these international nuclear companies try to sell you the idea of nuclear energy, they don’t tell you that in the long run, it’s actually going to cost you a whole lot more than you expect,” said Williams.

He said the financial markets internationally were also moving away from nuclear energy to renewable energy because it was cost effective and the safer alternative.

“In Germany, they’ve already taken a decision to close 23 nuclear reactor plants in the next five to six years. They’ve made a commitment to source all their power through sustainable energy and other countries should follow in this path. We are here to spread the word in terms of what’s happening on the international front and countries can make informed decisions based on this,” said Slivyak.

Earthlife Africa Durban, who hosted the anti-nuclear activists, said it was concerned that the South African government still planned to pursue the nuclear deal.

“It is at the heart of the state capture and the cabinet reshuffle. If it goes ahead the R1 trillion deal will bankrupt the country. It is a risky and dangerous source of power as witnessed by the many nuclear disasters, most notably Fukushima in Japan”.

“Earthlife Africa Durban and the South Durban Community Environmental Alliance supports a renewable energy future and an end to coal and nuclear power stations. We call on the people of South Africa to oppose the government’s shady nuclear deals and to support a safe, clean and green future with renewable energy,” said Earthlife Durban spokeswoman, Alice Thompson.

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SUNDAY TRIBUNE