The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

“Trojan horse’ – anti nuclear protest in Pretoria, South Africa

Green Peace activists protest against SA’s nuclear power plans Valeska Abreu , 25 Aug 15,

Green Peace activists have tied themselves to a four meter high Trojan horse which has been changed to a pillar at the entrance of the Department of Energy in Pretoria.

protest S Africa 15

They are silently protesting against South Africa’s plans for nuclear power. Four activists are sitting on the cold cemented floor wearing white safety overalls and masks, holding up placards that read “no future in nuclear” and “solar is the solution”.

The activist group is calling for the department to focus its plans on renewable energy rather than nuclear. Melita Steele, senior climate and energy campaign manager, says nuclear energy is a trap and could bankrupt the country.

The lobby group wrote a letter of demands to the department seven days ago but say they have not received any response. “It’s indicative of how the department is engaging on the issue of nuclear,” said Steele.

She said they would remain outside the department until they received feedback.

August 26, 2015 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Finance Minister under pressure about govt plans for unaffordable nuclear power


Mr Nene is under enormous political pressure to accede to a presidency-backed plan to procure 9,600MW of nuclear energy capacity at a time when public finances are at their weakest since the mid 1990s.

Underlining this pressure was the appearance of a fake intelligence dossier last week, smearing top Treasury officials as apartheid agents and alleging that they and Mr Nene are part of a conspiracy by the old white establishment to control the Treasury.

The document aroused grave concern among the public, and in political and investor circles, as it is feared it may signal a political attack on the Treasury, which until now has been a strong source of confidence given its ability to exercise tight control over government finances.

The Treasury and Mr Nene say that the document is baseless but appears to be a worrying attempt “to undermine and destablise the institution”.

Mr Nene’s comments, in an exclusive interview with Business Day on Friday, come at a time of keen interest from ratings agencies and the investor community regarding whether the government will stick to self-imposed spending ceilings designed to cut debt in this challenging political context.

Of the challenges, top of the list is whether Mr Nene will be able to hold the line on the nuclear procurement.

Treasury and Department of Energy officials spent most of last week locked in an intense engagement in Cape Town over the financing options for the project.

Mr Nene said that since the Treasury had only just been invited into the process, it was too early to make pronouncements.

However, if it was unaffordable to the country and to consumers, who would have to pay for the energy generated, it could not be done, he said….. the Department of Energy’s discussions with vendors have all assumed the full 9,600MW would be commissioned. The department also envisages using the programme for industrialisation and job creation, and aims to create a nuclear export industry.

It has to date refused to make public its studies or provide evidence that a nuclear procurement of 9,600MW is affordable.

Mr Nene said that as with any project that involved the allocation of resources, the Treasury would have to account to the nation.

“That is why following process is critical…. My job is spelt out in legislation and my role is to uphold and stay within the confines of the Constitution and the Public Finance Management Act.”…..

August 24, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

African National Congress calls for transparency on nuclear tender process

flag-S.AfricaANC calls for transparent nuclear tender process, Mail & Guardian, 18 AUG 2015 2FRANZ WILDSTAFF REPORTER
ANC calls for “full, transparent and thorough cost benefit analysis of nuclear power” as SA prepares for a bidding process for new nuclear plants. n a document that will be discussed at its policy review conference in October, the ANC said: “Government must also announce publicly that nuclear energy can only be procured in line with the legal prescripts and after a thoroughgoing affordability assessment.”

The document was released on Monday.

During his State of the Nation address in February, President Jacob Zuma said all countries that bid “will be engaged in a fair, transparent and competitive procurement process to select a strategic partner, or partners, to undertake the nuclear build programme”.

But the Mail & Guardian reported earlier this year that in a “top secret” presentation, the energy department proposed a closed government-to-government procurement of new nuclear power stations instead of a transparent and competitive tender.

The nuclear agreement with Russia, which amaBhungane revealed, states that the government is prepared to give Russia exclusive rights to its nuclear build programme for a minimum of 20 years. During that time, Russia could block South Africa from procuring nuclear technology from any other country.

The Russians would be indemnified from any liability arising from nuclear accidents during the reactors’ lifespan. Russia would be granted a host of regulatory concessions and favourable taxation and other financial treatment. The designated competent authorities are South Africa’s department of energy and Russia’s state-owned Rosatom State Atomic Energy.

With the Russian economy in turmoil and the subsequent high cost of borrowing, the country’s ability to raise the funding for its nuclear ambitions in many countries is being called into question – as is its ability to deliver on time.

For South Africa, it is even more of a mystery how the government will provide the loan guarantees that would be required, given that so many have been extended to ailing parastatals such as Eskom and SAA. The state may have hit its limit………

August 19, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s incorrect environmental assessments for proposed nuclear power stations

safety-symbol1flag-S.AfricaNuclear deal environmental assessments don’t match proposed plants: DA RDM News Wire | 16 August, 2015 

The Environmental Impact Assessments (EIA) 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, the Democratic Alliance says.

The DA said on Sunday that 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”.

In a statement‚ DA spokesman on energy Gordon MacKay said this information had come to light in a reply to a DA parliamentary question in which the Minister of Energy revealed that the EIAs – 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.

“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 EIA’s 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‚” Mr MacKay asserted.

“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 added.

He quoted the consultants as making clear in their report that “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‚” stated MacKay‚ “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. 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.

“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.”

August 17, 2015 Posted by | safety, South Africa | 1 Comment

Secrecy and graft in South Africa’s multi $billion nuclear power plan?

flag-S.AfricaNuclear power plan stirs fears of secrecy and graft Project could cost as much as $100 bn – experts., Money Web  Joe Brock, Reuters | 14 August 2015 Fears are growing in South Africa that agreements to build nuclear power plants that could be the most  expensive procurement in the country’s history will be made behind closed doors, without the necessary public scrutiny.

Among those voicing concern, two government sources say the Treasury is not being included in procurement discussions, despite the massive budgetary implications of a project that experts say may cost as much as $100 billion.

Construction on the first plant is due to start next year, breakneck speed compared with the years of regulatory and environmental checks for nuclear projects in countries such as Britain and the United States.

The Democratic Alliance, the main opposition party, believes the pace of the deal will prevent proper analysis before contracts are signed and huge sums of money change hands.

“The whole deal has been veiled in secrecy. We have no details on what we’re buying, how much it’s going to cost or how we’re going to pay for it,” shadow energy minister Gordon Mackay told Reuters.

The Department of Energy (DoE) did not respond to requests for comment. It has said several times the procurement process will be transparent and follow procedure.

Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene was forced this week to deny reports of tensions with the DoE over the plans and said the Treasury was playing a supporting role in the procurement process.

fighters-marketing-1Pretoria has already signed non-binding inter-government agreements for nuclear power support from several countries including France, China and South Korea.

South Africa’s President Jacob Zuma said this week the nuclear plan was at an “advanced stage” and the procurement process should be completed by March.

Following meetings between Zuma and Russian President Vladimir Putin last year, the Russian atomic agency Rosatom said it had agreed a $10 billion contract to build power stations.

However, the DoE denied an agreement had been reached, raising public suspicion in South Africa of backroom dealmaking – an accusation often levelled against the ruling African National Congress under Zuma’s tenure.

The nuclear deal is of huge concern given South Africa’s history of endemic corruption,” said Andrew Feinstein, a former ANC lawmaker and now executive director of Corruption Watch UK.

Feinstein is the author of a book about alleged widespread graft in a $4.8 billion arms deal during the late-1990s.

“I fear that the corruption in this deal might dwarf the arms deal,” he said.

Chronic shortages, mounting debt…….A 2013 study by the University of Cape Town’s Energy Research Centre found more nuclear power was not needed and would not be cost-effective, based on an estimated installed cost of $7 000 per kilowatt.

The DoE has estimated the build would cost $4 200 per kilowatt. Energy experts say this is optimistic and the calculations are based on out-of-date assumptions……..

August 15, 2015 Posted by | politics, politics international, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa facing a R1-trillion nuclear financial disaster

Money down holeR1-trillion nuclear plans are simply “disastrous” for SA 31 July 15 Government’s R1-trillion nuclear build plans are going to turn South Africa’s energy crisis into a jobs crisis, according to the Democratic Alliance.

Earlier in July, the Department of Energy signed two memoranda of understanding with Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom to implement several joint projects for education in the nuclear power industry.

Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson said that South Africa will start a nuclear build programme in 2015, in a bid to generate an additional 9,600MW of electricity.

The country will have as many as nine new nuclear power plants by 2030, with government pegging the total cost to build these at R500 million – though energy experts have stated R1 trillion was more realistic, and would likely increase.

In a statement issued on 31 July, DA leader Mmusi Maimane said the nuclear deal will drag the country’s economy back, and will cost thousands of South Africans their jobs.

According to the party, the details behind government’s nuclear plans show that the undertaking is unaffordable.

“Whichever funding model is chosen, you can rest assured that it will be paid for by the South African taxpayer, and that we can expect substantial tariff increases over many years.”

These higher prices would price the poor out of electricity usage, and would result in energy-heavy industries – like mining and manufacturing – shedding more jobs, said the DA.

“For a government that claims to be pro-poor – and for a country where 5.2 million people cannot find work and a further 2.4 million have given up looking – this is unfathomable.”

Maimane pointed to a number of flaws in the scheme:

  • Even if government’s estimate of R500 million was correct, South Africa cannot afford to build the nuclear reactors. This would result in private-public partnerships being formed, which would be reflected in current and future electricity prices increasing, as citizens would have to pay.
  • South Africa lacks the capacity and skills to operate eight nuclear power stations. We lack the capacity and skills to run the one we already have, said Maimane.
  • The project goes against the government’s own National Development Plan, which urges caution on nuclear, pointing rather towards gas, wind, and solar energy as a primary source of power.

To date, government has not provided solid details on the nuclear build plans.

“Until the government tells us how much the nuclear deal will cost, how we plan to pay for it, and how they intend to choose the preferred bidder, we cannot begin to entertain the notion of going down this path.”

The DA leader said that, while the party does not oppose nuclear power, the current plan is “not right” for the country, and it will do anything in its power to block the deal.

August 1, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa is warned – Nuclear power is a dying industry

scrutiny-on-costsWith the South African build is set to cost anywhere up to R1-trillion, that would mean the same cost (adjusted upward with inflation) would have to be born near the end of this century, he says. “Except then you will have no income coming in. Just the cost of powering the reactors while you wind down operations. And the endless cost of looking after the nuclear waste.”

“This is a dying industry and there are just too many unanswered questions for South Africa to go down this path. Except we know the element of corruption can always be present in the nuclear industry,”

radiation-sign-sadflag-S.AfricaNuclear a ‘technology of the past‘, Mail & Guardian, 27 JUL 2015  SIPHO KINGS Russian nuclear activist has labelled South Africa’s pursuit of new nuclear capacity – with Russian support – as “naive” and advised against it. “Nuclear is not technology of the future. This is technology of the past, of the Cold War.” This is the conclusion Vladimir Slivyak, of the Russian environmental group Ecodefense, reaches when talking about nuclear technology. Continue reading

July 29, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Russia is front-runner in scramble to sell nuclear reactors to South Africa, but who will pay?

South Africa has concluded similar pacts with China, France, the US, Japan and South Korea.

“There are serious questions that need to be answered as to whether South Africa is able to finance this programme and how any investment would have to be repaid,

Russian-Bearflag-S.AfricaWill Putin pay for SA’s $100bn nuclear plan?, Mail & Guardian, 06 JUL 2015 11:03 MIKE COHEN The awarding of contracts to build SA’s nuclear plants is nearing. Who will pay for the big project? Russia is seen as the frontrunner to win the right to build South African nuclear power plants that may be worth as much as $100-billion. With a six-month deadline to award contracts, who’s going to pay for the country’s biggest project yet remains a mystery.

Price-tag estimates for as many as eight reactors generating 9 600 megawatts, which the government wants to begin operating from 2023 and complete by 2029, range from $37-billion to $100-billion. Bids are due to start this quarter, with Russia’s Rosatom seen as a leader. Areva, EDF, Toshiba’s Westinghouse Electric, China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding and Korea Electric Power have also shown interest.


The planned investment comes as the government battles to fend off a junk-grade credit rating and the Treasury seeks to rein in the budget deficit. Proceeding with the nuclear plants could result in a large increase in public debt, the International Monetary Fund warned in a report on June 24.

“There appears to be a simple-minded assumption that countries like China or Russia will provide cheap plants and offer finance,” Steve Thomas, professor of energy policy at the University of Greenwich in the UK, who has monitored South Africa’s nuclear plans since 1997, said in a phone interview on June 24. “That’s an illusion.” Continue reading

July 11, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics international, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Democratic Alliance refutes government denials over a nuclear deal.

Russian-Bearflag-S.AfricaDA slams nuclear deal July 10 2015  IOL By ANA  The DA refutes government denials over a nuclear deal.

Cape Town – South Africa’s inking of two memoranda of understanding with Russia’s state nuclear energy company Rosatom made it clear a deal for a new reactor was already in the pipeline despite government’s denials, the Democratic Alliance said on Friday.

DA energy spokesman Gordon Mackay said he had written to Energy minister Tina Joemat-Petterson following Thursday’s announcement of the agreement on the sidelines of the Brics summit in the southern Russian city of Ufa to demand that she release further details of it.

“That these MOUs reportedly speak of cooperation in order to provide training for five categories of specialists for the South African nuclear industry is the clearest indication yet that Rosatom is the preferred bidder,” Mackay said

“Signing MOUs of this nature, while a competitive bid process is underway, smacks of gross impropriety on behalf of Minister Joemat-Pettersson and can be seen as nothing more than a crude attempt by the Zuma administration to bolster Rosatom’s bid over potential rivals.”

Government on Thursday denied Russia was the preferred bidder for a deal that would increase South Africa’s nuclear power capacity………

July 11, 2015 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Russia’s nuclear industry to “educate” South Africans

Russian-Bearflag-S.AfricaNuclear deal – 200 South Africans to be “educated” during excursions to Russia ALEC HOGG JULY 9, 2015 Cape Town – The Department of Energy announced in a statement on Thursday that it has signed two memoranda of understanding with Russian state nuclear energy corporation Rosatom at the 7th summit of the Brics (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) countries in the Russian city of Ufa.

According to the first document, Russia and South Africa aim to implement several joint projects for education in the nuclear power industry.


The countries will cooperate to provide training for five categories of specialists for the South African nuclear industry: nuclear power plant personnel, engineers and construction workers, staff for operations not related to the power industry, personnel for nuclear infrastructure, students and teachers.

There will also be education programmes for 200 South African candidates at Russian universities and educational organisations. This memorandum stipulates the development of educational materials and scientific literature on nuclear power, student exchange programmes for students of various levels of training, organisation of internships and summer courses, student competitions and teacher training.

The second memorandum signed in Ufa stipulates joint efforts of the parties to promote nuclear power in South Africa, increasing the awareness of local residents of modern nuclear technologies used in the power industry and in other industries, and ensuring public acceptance of nuclear power.

In particular, the parties have agreed to work out a plan for the implementation of a joint communication programme to be launched in South Africa. This will involve the organisation of round tables and other events aimed at promoting nuclear power and modern nuclear technologies.

A nuclear energy information centre in South Africa is also under consideration. “The parties seek to exchange information and best practices in the nuclear industry by organising working visits and international conferences and exhibitions,” said the Department of Energy.   Source:

July 10, 2015 Posted by | politics, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

Clearly, South Africa can’t afford nuclear power

nuclear-costs3The South African government has said it will not go ahead with nuclear power if the expected construction cost is more than $6500/kW, equivalent to about R130bn per reactor. However, the latest cost estimates are about 25% higher than this. This means that if the South African government sticks to its promise, the tender will fail.

Why South Africa should steer clear of nuclear, By Steve Thomas, Professor of Energy Policy at University of Greenwich   Business Tech By  June
21, 2015
 It would be sensible to acknowledge that a nuclear programme is not viable for resolving South Africa’s energy crisis. Rather, the country should be focusing its attention on how to end electricity blackouts and speed up energy efficiency and renewable energy programmes.

Building new nuclear energy capability will cost the country billions of US dollars. It is doubtful that South Africa can afford this.

In addition, nuclear power entails a different but also serious set of risks to climate change. These include the risk of reactor accidents, the danger of weapons proliferation and the hazards of radioactive waste……

Price of nuclear

Continue reading

June 21, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Uranium promise turned to poverty for Dominionville, South Africa

Uranium mining town hopes long turned to dust, Mail & Guardian  05 DEC 2014 PHILLIP DE WET Dominionville residents expected a boom town when Shiva Uranium foretold promises of riches, but white poverty and black despair remain years later. The people of Dominionville in North West have seen it before, and those who were not around have heard the stories. The residents tell it among themselves like a sort of fairy tale – the pre-Disney kind, full of darkness and foreboding – warning against hope.

In 2006, it was Uranium One, they say, that sold the idea that riches would return to their town. In Canada and Europe, the company sold the story of the rich shafts – almost within sight of the residents – and they sold it well.

The people of Dominionville, more than half resigned to the idea that the tide would never turn their way again, read the articles about hundreds of millions of dollars being poured into the company, and dared to dream……

That was so many years ago that the signboards for the Shiva Uranium mines have been bleached almost illegible by the sun. As yet, the money has not materialised. Dominionville barely clings on, a place of white poverty and black despair……

June 10, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s government continues in its historic underestimation of nuclear costs


History suggests otherwise. When the pebble bed programme for SA to develop its own reactor design was announced in 1998, Eskom claimed a commercial reactor could be in operation by 2004 at a construction cost of less than $1,000 per kilowatt of capacity.

By 2010, commercial deployment of the pebble bed was estimated by Eskom to be 20 years away and the estimated cost of a demonstration plant had increased nearly 30-fold.

In 2006, a tender for new nuclear plants from the world market was launched with the expectation that a plant could be bought for $2,500/kW. The lowest bid was 150% more and the tender was abandoned in 2008 because it could not be financed.

Only two years later, a new attempt to order nuclear plants was launched with the publication of the first Integrated Resource Plan for the electricity industry. The prices bid in 2008 were ignored and it was assumed the cost would be only $3,500/kW. A year later, in 2011, the government had to admit this figure was far too low and revised it up to about $5,000/kW, still well below the prices bid in 2008 and below prevailing international price levels.

There are only two explanations for this continued gross underestimation of costs. Either the government is choosing to mislead the public about the actual costs, or it is far too gullible to the claims of nuclear sales people. Neither explanation reflects well on the government.

The government has promised that if the bid prices were higher than $6,500/kW, the tender would be abandoned. Given that prevailing prices in the world are now about $8,000/kW, if the government keeps its promise, the tender being launched this year is doomed to failure. It would be useful for Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to confirm now whether the promise still applies and, if it does not, how much the state is prepared to pay.


June 4, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Secrecy, and no costing known, in South Africa’s plans for nuclear power



However, officials said the procurement would be completed by the end of the financial year when “a strategic partner or partners” would be chosen.

While the officials gave a lengthy motivation on the need for nuclear power and SA’s preparedness for the new nuclear energy build, details about the cost, the financing and the procurement process were not provided. Inter-governmental agreements that SA has signed with various countries on nuclear co-operation, as well as a damning report by the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review on SA’s readiness also remained under wraps.

Ms Joemat-Pettersson is backed by President Jacob Zuma in her quest to build 9.6GW of nuclear generation capacity. However, there are several detractors of the plan, including the former National Planning Commission, opposition political parties and a wide array of civil society and human rights lobby groups……

DA MP Gordon MacKay said that with regard to the financing the government had got the cart before the horse.”It is strange that we are wanting to buy something that we don’t know the cost of and we don’t know how we will pay for,” he said.

Mr MacKay also criticised the secrecy of the report compiled in the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review process.While reports for other countries are available on the website of the International Atomic Energy Agency, the report compiled on SA remains “classified” despite being completed two years ago.

Mr MacKay said it was believed that the report showed SA to be unprepared for the nuclear procurement in 14 of 19 benchmark areas.

June 4, 2015 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Unlikely that South Africa could fund its secretive nuclear power project

Too soon’ to assess SA on funding nuclear BD Live BY CHARLOTTE MATHEWS, 03 JUNE 2015, MOSCOW — Assumptions could not yet be made about SA’s capacity to finance its planned 9,600MW of new nuclear power because a number of other issues needed to be decided first, said Kirill Komarov, Rosatom State Corporation’s first deputy general director for development and international business.

He was speaking on the sidelines of the Atomexpo 2015 conference on nuclear technology in Moscow this week, which has attracted 1,600 delegates from 48 countries. Although Rosatom has the major role, there are speakers and exhibitors from nuclear vendor countries including France, Russia and China……..

The South African government seeks a large nuclear procurement despite doubts about its affordability. The target is to have the first reactor in commission by 2023……..

Given SA’s other spending priorities and weak economic growth, it seemed unlikely it could fund this programme in full………Rosatom had arranged financing for nuclear stations it built in Belarus, Hungary and India,……. • Rosatom sponsored Charlotte Mathews’s visit to Russia

June 4, 2015 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment


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