Nuclear Deal: Case to stop SA from bankrupting itself begins https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2017-02-22-nuclear-deal-case-to-stop-sa-from-bankrupting-itself-begins/#.WK9qo9KGPGg REBECCA DAVIS SOUTH AFRICA 22 FEB 2017
While Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was throwing around some big figures in Parliament on Wednesday, an even bigger one was looming over the Western Cape High Court: R1-trillion, the estimated cost of South Africa’s nuclear deal with Russia. The legal challenge mounted by two environmental NGOs to the nuclear deal hit the court this week, with an accompanying bevy of protesters. It has been termed one of the most significant state capture court cases South Africa has yet seen. By REBECCA DAVIS.
“No nukes, no bankrupting SA, no enriching Zuma and Co,” read one sign. “Nuclear costs SA equivalent of 1.2-billion buses!” proclaimed another. On a day when South Africa’s economy was already in the spotlight, the small crowd assembled outside the Western Cape High Court had one particular aspect of its future in mind. “Phantsi secret nuclear deal phantsi!” the protesters chanted.
In the legal ring: two NGOs, Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), squaring up against Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson’s pursuit of 9,600 megawatts of nuclear power. One media outlet referred to it as a “David vs Goliath battle”. That’s accurate in the sense that the two NGOs behind the legal battle are modestly resourced. But when David took on Goliath, he didn’t have one of the most lethal advocates in the country leading his legal team.
Acting for the NGOs is David Unterhalter, who has appeared in countless of South Africa’s most high-profile legal matters – including representing Deputy President Cyril Ramaphosa at the Marikana Commission. In this case, David is armed and dangerous.
The court challenge will not deal with the question of whether or not nuclear power is the right energy source to meet the country’s needs. Opening the arguments for the applicants on Wednesday, Unterhalter said that his team would show that the inter-governmental nuclear agreement with Russia “fails to comply with what is required constitutionally”.
While the government contends that this kind of international agreement is an instance of “executive action”, and thus beyond the purview of review, the applicants maintain that it is “a fairly straightforward case of administrative action” which should have gone before Parliament for resolution. While the Russian agreement was tabled in Parliament, it was not subject to a debate and a resolution of Parliament, despite the state law adviser’s counsel to Minister Joemat-Pettersson that this was required.
Lawyer Adrian Pole subsequently told journalists that they will also argue that the public should have been granted more of a voice in discussions about South Africa’s energy future.
This point was emphasised by the protesters outside court. Criticising the government for making use of “flawed” processes and failing to carry out public hearings, Earthlife Africa’s Makoma Lekalakala described the nuclear process as “shrouded in secrecy”.
Lekalakala said: “This case was filed in the public interest to hold those in government accountable and prevent secret deals leading to corruption.” She also hit out at the possible environmental damage of a large-scale nuclear programme. South Africa is currently dependent on a fossil fuel economy, Lekalakala said. “With nuclear it becomes much worse – it’s not just a question of pollution, but also of [how to dispose of nuclear] waste.”
South Korean activist Kim Yong-Bock was outside court on Wednesday in solidarity with South African protesters – and bearing an urgent message focusing on nuclear safety. Kim said that the local court case was similar to the ongoing debate in Japan about the constitutionality of nuclear plants.
“The security of life in your country is supposed to be protected by your Constitution,” Kim said, warning that after the 2011 Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan, wrangling continues as to the liability of the Tokyo Electric Power Company. To the nuclear industry, Kim suggested, “it doesn’t really matter if you die or not”.
Looking around at the South Africans gathered outside the court, Kim said: “You are potential victims.”
The issue of the prohibitive cost of the nuclear build was also prominent among the protesters’ concerns. “There are many ways of providing the electricity we need now and in the future without spending R1-trillion or more,” SACSEI’s Ven Tsondru said. Both sun and wind, she suggested, could generate electricity quicker and cheaper than nuclear energy.
Tsondru explained that the court case’s major function was to force government to share both the reasoning behind, and financial details of, the nuclear deal.
The legal proceedings have already forced the government’s hand in revealing certain aspects of the previously secretive nuclear deal. The original court application was filed in October 2015. From papers revealed to the applicants in 2016, the NGOs said that it appeared that despite denials from the governments of both Russia and South Africa, a binding commitment to buy a fleet of nuclear reactors from Russia had already been signed.
On Wednesday morning, protesters were keeping one eye on Parliament, where Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan was due to deliver his Budget speech that afternoon. Ears would be pricked for reference to the nuclear deal, which President Jacob Zuma did not mention in his State of the Nation Address a fortnight ago.
Earthlife Africa’s Lekalakala told the small crowd outside the Western Cape High Court that they expected the Finance Minister to announce in the Budget that afternoon that “we cannot go ahead with nuclear now”. If he were to give endorsement to the nuclear deal, she said, he would be “undermining you and me”.
As it turned out, Minister Gordhan’s Budget did not mention the nuclear deal at all – unless you count a veiled reference to protecting future generations from today’s debt.
To SAFCEI’S Liz McDaid, this was a positive sign.
“We applaud the Minister of Finance for acting in the public interest and not wasting money on the nuclear deal,” McDaid told the Daily Maverick. “We will continue to monitor government with respect to the nuclear deal. If we are successful with our court case, the decision to procure nuclear will be overturned.”
Why Gordhan’s silence on nuclear was golden’ The Minister effectively signaled that there is no need to react to exaggerated energy crisis talk coming from the pro-nuclear lobby’ Business Day, 24 FEBRUARY 2017 – 08:50 AM HARTMUT WINKLER South Africa’s Minister of Finance, Pravin Gordhan said very little about the energy sector in his recent budget speech. The word “energy” came up only once compared with 2016, when it was used five times. Even more notable is that he didn’t mention nuclear energy – a source of major contention – at all.
The explicit statements relating to energy were restricted to an increase in the fuel levy and affirmation that the independent power producer programme would continue with the development of further renewable and gas power generation.
This avoidance might at first glance seem odd given the heated controversies around power shortages as well as the government’s plans to invest in unaffordable nuclear power plants.
But there’s a great deal to take heart from. By downplaying the energy sector in his speech, the Minister effectively signaled that there is no need to react to exaggerated energy crisis talk coming from the pro-nuclear lobby. Instead, he is showing faith in the existing modest medium term energy budget, and an unwillingness to be diverted onto a reckless financial course…….
The significance of the Minister’s silence
Gordhan’s budget signalled that he is intent on standing firm against any political pressure by refusing to significantly deviate from the National Treasury’s long term expenditure plan.
Contrary to what his detractors would have hoped for, he did not make appreciably higher allocations to the nuclear sector. Instead he:
– Committed to the continuation of the independent power producer driven renewable energy programme. This has been opposed by the pro-nuclear Eskom;…….
Gordhan went on to say: “By acting now to stabilise debt … future generations will not pay … 20 or 30 years from now.”
This affirms the frequently stated view that the decision to embark on a massive nuclear build could only be financed through astronomical loans that will severely burden the nation for decades.
Gordhan has stood firm. But one question remains: will his stand lead to his dismissal and replacement with a stooge leading inevitably to a crash of the country’s currency, open warfare inside the ruling party and public protest? https://www.businesslive.co.za/rdm/politics/2017-02-24-why-gordhans-silence-on-nuclear-was-golden/
Antinuclear lobby groups say government’s secrecy is embarrassing
Two groups are asking the high court to declare the alleged nuclear deal with Russia‚ signed by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson‚ unlawful, Business Live 22 FEBRUARY 2017 The court battle between lobby groups and the government over the alleged R1-trillion proposed nuclear deal with Russia — ostensibly the biggest procurement by the government to date — resumed in Cape Town on Wednesday.
Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) have taken the Department of Energy to court for procuring this arrangement under a veil of secrecy.
They have asked the court to declare the deal‚ signed by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson‚ unlawful and unconstitutional.
Spokesperson for Earthlife Makoma Lekalakala said it was “embarrassing” that they had to turn to the courts because the government refused to divulge details of the deal, which was of great public interest.
“We wondered why the government wanted to build nuclear plants especially after what happened in Hiroshima. Nuclear is also very costly so this deal is on the brink of bankrupting the country‚” Lekalakala said…… Finance Minister Pravin Gordhan made no mention of the deal in his budget speech.https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2017-02-22-antinuclear-lobby-groups-say-governments-secrecy-is-embarrassing/
S. African bishop says government should scrap nuclear power; expand renewable energy sources, Ecumenical News, 23 Feb 17
The Anglican Archbishop of Cape Town
, Thabo Makgoba, has appealed to the South African government to scrap plans for developing nuclear energy and instead spend the money on education, training and other development initiatives.
The archbishop said in a statement issued from the church’s Synod of Bishops Feb. 22 coming at a time that faith and environmental groups are issuing a court challenge to a secret nuclear deal the government has struck up with Russia.
“The Synod of Bishops has revisited the resolution adopted by the church’s Provincial Synod last September, in which the church expressed its opposition to the expansion of nuclear energy and urged the government to pursue the path of renewable energy initiatives……
“We are deeply concerned that an expanded nuclear energy program will become an albatross around the necks of our children. And we cannot leave to the generations to come the task of disposing of our nuclear waste.”
Makgoba said the bishops believe South Africa has the potential of becoming a renewable energy hub for Africa, with huge potential for investment in manufacturing and associated employment.
“We note that overseas investors are queuing up to invest in our renewable energy program and since the design of the program is such that they provide the finance, this does not burden our people.”
ENVIRONMENT JUSTICE GROUPS
Environmental justice groups have renewed a challenge to the government’s planned expansion of nuclear energy in a court hearing in currently Cape Town.
In November the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute said a closed meeting on a nuclear build plan reinforces the perception that government has something to hide……http://www.ecumenicalnews.com/article/s-african-archbishop-says-government-should-scrap-nuclear-power-expand-renewable-energy-sources/59172.htm
Calls to scrap nuclear deal during #SONA2017, SONA / 9 February 2017, SAMKELO MTSHALI, Durban – Civil society organisations and other critics of government’s proposed multibillion-rand nuclear plan called on President Jacob Zuma to scrap it during his State of the Nation address tonight.
The South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) picketed outside City Hall on Wednesday and handed over a memorandum to the eThekwini Municipality, detailing their opposition to the nuclear plan.
Today in Cape Town the Right2Know Campaign is expected to add its voice to growing criticism of plans to build nuclear power stations in South Africa. Desmond D’Sa, SDCEA chairperson, said the deal had been shrouded in secrecy and accused the government of not consulting with communities.
“Ultimately it’s the poor and working class of this country who will have added pressure to pay for these nuclear power stations that cost so much money. “This money should instead be used for better access to healthcare facilities, education and other basic necessities,” D’Sa said.
He pointed out that a single nuclear powered plant would take close to a decade to build. With government planning on building six to eight, it would take about 30 to 40 years before all were completed. “If you take half the money of the nuclear deal, R500billion, and invest it in setting up companies in renewable energy projects , you could create over a million jobs ,” said D’Sa.
He said setting up these companies in townships such as uMlazi, KwaMashu, Soweto, Alexandra, Gugulethu and Langa would go a long way in addressing the high rate of unemployment, which stands at 26.6%.
He said this was the route countries like India, the US and China had followed.
“Nuclear energy is harmful……..
Carina Conradie, of the Right2Know Campaign, said they were concerned about the affordability of the nuclear deal because nuclear energy was one of the most expensive forms of energy. “Wind and solar energy are much better and cost-effective alternatives to nuclear energy,” she said.
Questioning the legitimacy of the deal, Conradie said: “There have been reports of secret deals with Russia and even the procurement process was not above board; it was shrouded in secrecy.”
She said they had strategically planned their demonstrations around Sona 2017 because it was important the issue remained at the forefront of the public’s thoughts and on the tip of their tongues.
This would ensure there was growing opposition to the deal by educating people on its perils…….http://www.iol.co.za/news/special-features/sona/calls-to-scrap-nuclear-deal-during-sona2017-7681658
France joins suitors for Kenya’s nuclear plant venture, Business Daily Africa, NEVILLE OTUKI, firstname.lastname@example.org February 7 2017 IN SUMMARY French Economy and Finance minister Michel Sapin said the nuclear-rich European country was looking to offer Kenya technical, engineering and financial support to develop reactors.
Kenya plans to start building its first nuclear plant from 2022 in a five-year period at a cost of about Sh500 billion
China, Russia, South Korea and Slovakia have since inked various pacts with Kenya in manpower development and skills exchange as they eye a possible deal.
France has joined the list of countries courting Kenya for a multi-billion-dollar deal to build East Africa’s first nuclear power plant.
French Economy and Finance minister Michel Sapin said the nuclear-rich European country was looking to offer Kenya technical, engineering and financial support to develop reactors.
Kenya plans to start building its first nuclear plant from 2022 in a five-year period at a cost of about Sh500 billion.
China, Russia, South Korea and Slovakia have since inked various pacts with Kenya in manpower development and skills exchange as they eye a possible deal.
“We have expressed our readiness to support the construction of the plants. Our support involves everything from expertise to funding,” Mr Sapin said on Sunday after concluding his two-day visit to Kenya during which he presided over the return of Peugeot assembly to Kenya…….
Mr Sapin said that France was seeking pacts with Nairobi like the ones it entered with South Africa on nuclear power development.
France has over the years signed several pacts with South Africa whose two power plants were built by French firm Areva.
South Africa plans to add more nuclear power plants.
Energy experts from Italy and Germany last October, however, advised Kenya to drop plans to build nuclear reactors and instead harness its vast renewable energy resources for power generation. The experts, attending a renewable energy conference in Nairobi, reckoned that Kenya is better off developing more geothermal wells, solar parks and wind farms.
They cited massive costs for a nuke plant, long construction periods of about 10 years and expensive decommissioning of plants at the end of their lifespan, especially disposing of hazardous radioactive waste.
Strong response on Nuclear – Eskom , AFRICAN NEWS AGENCY 1 February 2017 Johannesburg – Eskom said on Wednesday that it was receiving positive response from the market to the Request for Information (RFI) issued in relation to the proposed South African Nuclear New Build Programme.
The power utility said some 27 companies had stated that they intended to provide a response to the RFI, including major nuclear vendors from China (SNPTC), France (EdF), Russia (Rosatom Overseas) and South Korea (KEPCO).
Eskom’s interim group chief executive Matshela Koko said: “Eskom is looking forward to the information supplied to confirm our understanding of the key issues that impact the timing and affordability of a nuclear programme.”……
Eskom issued the RFI on its website in December 2016 and asked companies that felt they could provide relevant information to confirm by January 31 that they would be submitting a response to it.
Cabinet in June designated Eskom as the procurer, owner and operator for the multi-million rand nuclear build programme to initially provide 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear energy at least by 2030.
But according to the base case scenario in the Integrated Resource Plan unveiled by Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson in November, only 1 359 megawatt of nuclear power would be added to the country’s energy mix by 2037 and the volume of renewable energy would rise significantly.
Russia’s Rosatom submits bid for South African nuclear project – TASS, Reuters Jan 24 Russian state nuclear agency Rosatom has submitted a bid for a nuclear power project in South Africa, TASS news agency cited the company’s General Director Alexei Likhachev as saying on Tuesday.
Rosatom had been considered the leading candidate for a tender to build 9.6 gigawatts of nuclear power capacity in South Africa by 2030, but South African nuclear state agency Necsa said last year it was no longer “the frontrunner”. (Reporting by Alexander Winning; Writing by Jack Stubbs) http://www.reuters.com/article/russia-safrica-nuclear-idUSR4N1F7023
South Africa: Court Orders Punitive Costs Against Minister in Nuclear Case http://allafrica.com/stories/201612150392.html By Ashleigh Furlong, 14 Dec 16 Minutes before hearing, ministry reveals new determination on nuclear energy
The Minister of Energy Tina Joemat-Pettersson has been ordered by the Western Cape High Court to pay punitive costs including the costs of four counsel for Earthlife Africa and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (SAFCEI) after the state brought forward new evidence minutes before the case was set to begin.
A court orders punitive costs usually when it is dissatisfied with the conduct of a litigant. This is rare and is considered a strong rebuke.
The respondents in the case are the Minister of Energy, the president, the National Energy Regulator of South Africa (NERSA) as well as two representatives from Parliament.
Yesterday, the case began with a postponement until February 2017, as it was revealed mere minutes before the hearing was to begin that the Minister had made a new nuclear energy determination – replacing a decision that was gazetted last December.
Part of the relief sought by Earthlife and SAFCEI was for the old decision to be declared invalid. They also want the court to declare invalid the agreement between South Africa and Russia, as well as the tabling in Parliament of the deals with the USA and Korea.
The new decision now states that Eskom, not the Department of Energy – as was the case in the old determination – will be the procurement agency for 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy.
“Despite it being signed on 5 December 2016, the Court was not informed thereof and neither were the applicants – until literally minutes before the hearing was to begin. The Court stressed in its judgment that there was no evidence presented to the court explaining how this determination came about, when it was decided upon and the processes leading thereto, despite the Determination apparently having been made more than a week before the hearing,” says a statement issued by Earthlife and SAFCEI.
The South African Renewable Energy Council (SAREC) has also expressed concern over the new determination, saying that it was “seemingly rushed through” on the basis of “the very outdated Integrated Resource Plan published in 2010”.
“We are further disheartened by Eskom’s Acting CEO’s simultaneous announcement that the utility will release a nuclear Request for Proposals as soon as the determination is gazetted,” says Brenda Martin, Chair of SAREC in the statement.
“SAREC believes that this irrational behaviour fans the flames of suspicion as to the real motives behind the nuclear campaign. Facts, logic and basic financial prudence simply do not support this determination,” says the statement.
Earthlife and SAFCEI wanted the request for proposals to be halted until the court case was finalised. However, the court ruled that Eskom was allowed to go ahead with the process.
Nuclear RFI delayed once again Release postponed ‘to brief minister’. Money Web , Antoinette Slabbert / 15 December 2016 Moneyweb has just learnt that Eskom will not release the highly-anticipated nuclear Request for Information (RFI) on Thursday, despite widely-published undertakings by its acting CEO Matshela Koko to that effect.
According to South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) chair Dr Kelvin Kemm, the documents were signed off by him and Eskom chair Dr Ben Ngubane on Thursday morning and were ready for release. A further cooperation agreement between Eskom and Necsa was also signed.
Eskom and Necsa have been tasked by government to jointly manage the procurement of the country’s 9 600 MW new nuclear build programme.
Kemm said Eskom’s shareholder representative, public enterprise minister Lynne Brown, however requested a personal briefing on the matter, since she has not been closely involved in the nuclear procurement planning……http://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/industry/breaking-nuclear-rfi-delayed-once-again/
Earthlife Africa goes to court to halt SA’s bid for nuclear power http://www.heraldlive.co.za/news/2016/12/13/earthlife-africa-goes-court-halt-sas-bid-nuclear-power/
In a David versus Goliath battle which could determine the country’s energy future‚ an NGO will be in the Cape Town High Court on Tuesday to try halt government’s nuclear procurement deal.
In an affidavit submitted to the court‚ Earthlife Africa argues that government’s agreement with Russia to supply South Africa with multiple nuclear power plants is both unlawful and unconstitutional.
The procurement deal would be the largest in the country’s history at an estimated R1-trillion‚ and would see the building of a “nuclear fleet” that would generate nearly 10GW of power.
In September 2014‚ Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson signed an agreement with Russia on strategic partnership and cooperation in the fields of nuclear power and industry‚ which was then authorised by President Jacob Zuma.
The agreement was tabled before Parliament in June 2015.
In the affidavit‚ Earthlife branch coordinator Phillipine Lekalakala stated that the deal was unlawful‚ and should be reviewed and set aside. “The decision to proceed with procuring these nuclear power plants… has occurred without any of the necessary statutory and constitutional decisions having been lawfully taken‚” said Lekalakala.
“The minister and the National Energy Regulator of SA were obligated to have determined that new generation capacity is required and that the electricity must be generated from nuclear power in terms of the Energy Regulations Act (ERA).”
“No ERA requirement decision or ERA nuclear procurement system decision has been taken.”
The state opposed the application saying that the nuclear programme was a policy direction adopted by government to establish a self-sufficient nuclear industry for the industrialisation and development of the country.
The deputy director-general of the Department of Energy‚ Zizamele Mbambo‚ said that‚ as part of the nuclear programme‚ the energy and electricity needs of the country would be provided for.
“This policy direction allows the country to discharge its international obligation to reduce CO2 emissions from our historical fleet of coal-driven power stations‚” Mbambo said.
Earthlife and co-applicants in the matter‚ Southern African Faith Ministries’ Environment Institute‚ will be holding a demonstration outside the court on Tuesday. – TMG Digital/The Times
In South Africa, Nuclear Energy Is Becoming A Dirty Word Forbes, Nishtha Chugh
State power utility Eskom is dragging its feet on honoring government-brokered deals with private renewables companies. Its refusal to purchase 250 megawatts of power from wind and solar projects has left its Irish and Saudi Arabian suppliers fuming and in limbo. More than scuppering the deals, Eskom’s actions, critically, threaten to undermine the gains made by the country’s green energy program, which many have come to hail
as the shining beacon of a renewables-based future . On the Fieldstone Africa Renewable Index or FARI, South Africa’s ranking has plummeted off the charts entirely, prompting concerns amongst investors over green energy’s future in the country. Its decline is ironic given the rainbow nation had topped the continent-wide list just four months ago.
Energy minister’s advisers reveal why nuclear should be dumped News 24, Matthew le Cordeur Cape Town – A Ministerial Advisory Council on Energy (Mace) working group report on South Africa’s future energy plan explains that by removing policy adjustments and keeping the plan at a least cost level, the need for nuclear energy falls away.
Plan to go to market for nuclear proposals not open for review http://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/plan-to-go-to-market-for-nuclear-proposals-not-open-for-review-7140535 9 December 2016, Emsie Ferreira Cabinet will not revisit its decision to endorse plans to proceed with a request for proposals to build new nuclear reactors, Presidency Minister Jeff Radebe said on Friday.
Outa says there is no case for nuclear http://www.iol.co.za/business/news/outa-says-there-is-no-case-for-nuclear-7126828 BUSINESS NEWS / 8 December 2016, Emsie Ferreira Cape Town – Civic rights organisation Outa on Thursday said it believed the case for building new nuclear energy reactors had been dismantled after the energy minister’s advisors told public hearings there were cheaper viable options.
“Following input provided by numerous entities at Wednesday’s Integrated Energy and Resource Plan (IEP and IRP) draft documents, Outa believes the rationale for any plans to introduce nuclear energy into South Africa’s electricity grid has been removed,” Outa’s portfolio director Ted Blom said.
He said the first day of hearings on the draft resource and energy blueprints had shown that they contained serious flaws in their assumptions of the prices of different energy technologies and that there was a need to for the IRP base case scenario to use the cheapest options. The base case scenario advanced in the IRP provides for South Africa to add 20 gigawatt of new nuclear energy by 2050 and Eskom has said it would it go to the market with a request for proposals by the end of the year still.
A team of experts that advised Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson challenged this conclusion and said their input was ignored. Business Day reported that members of the panel of 40 experts told the hearings that the department’s decision to impose artificial constraints on how much renewable energy could be added to the grid, as well as outdated pricing had allowed nuclear into the model. Outa chairman Wayne Duvenhage said the hearings had already yielded valuable input for the final IRP and he did no see how it could support the government and Eskom’s plans for nuclear expansion.
“Personally, I cannot see how the final IRP-2016 document will be able to suggest the inclusion of even one kilowatt of energy being generated through nuclear. If nuclear energy is indeed forced into the system, the DOE’s credibility will come under serious scrutiny.” Outa has called on the department to allow more time for public submissions.
“We remain concerned that the DOE is trying to force the process to be complete by the end of March 2017, which we believe will not be sufficient time,” Blom said.