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Nuclear energy ruled out for South Africa

Nuclear energy is off the table, says Ramaphosa

1 July 2022, Ntebo Mokobo |  @SABCNews,

President Cyril Ramaphosa says as the country tries to diversify its energy capacity, the nuclear energy option is off the table.

He was speaking to SABC News on the sidelines of the 7th SACU Summit which was held in Gaborone, Botswana on Thursday. The one-day meeting was called to discuss ways to ramp up export and investment among five SACU member states which include South Africa, Botswana, Lesotho, Namibia and the Kingdom of Eswatini……………..

President Ramaphosa says although nuclear energy looks attractive to help the country overcome its energy generation woes, South Africa simply can’t afford it…………. https://www.sabcnews.com/sabcnews/nuclear-energy-is-off-the-table-says-ramaphosa/

July 2, 2022 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Climate Summit failed to support African communities on the front lines of the climate crisis.

Kenyan climate activist Elizabeth Wathuti told world leaders attending the
Cop26 climate summit that her message would only land if they had the grace
to “fully listen”. Six months on, the 26-year-old environmentalist
looks back at the Glasgow summit with growing frustration. She feels that
it failed to deliver concrete support for those living on the front lines
of the climate crisis. Promises for future action, made in abundance at the
summit, offer cold comfort to those on the African continent living with
climate-fuelled hunger, flooding and extreme heat, she tells The
Independent, pointing to climate-related food insecurity in her own
country, Kenya.

 Independent 22nd May 2022

https://www.independent.co.uk/climate-change/news/elizabeth-wathuti-cop27-egypt-africa-davos-b2083781.html

May 26, 2022 Posted by | AFRICA, climate change | Leave a comment

From Russia with very expensive love – Karyn Maughan on South Africa’s bombed nuclear deal 

 https://www.biznews.com/global-investing/2022/05/19/nuclear-deal-russia 19th May 2022, by Michael Appel  

Jacob Zuma‘s presidency will be remembered for the wholesale looting of South Africa’s fiscus by him, his family, his friends the Guptas, and the political party he led – but also don’t forget how fiscus-destroyingly close we came to indebting future generations with a Russian nuclear deal.

In their new tell-all book, Nuclear: Inside South Africa’s Secret Deal, Karyn Maughan and Kirsten Pearson make the minutiae of the R1trn nuclear deal with Russia understandable and digestible. In this interview with Maughan, BizNews deputy editor Michael Appel seeks to better understand the dynamics behind the failed nuclear deal.

Plus, an update on the current state of Zuma’s arms deal corruption trial.

May 21, 2022 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

Peter Becker, sacked from South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator Board, won’t go down without a fight

 Daily Maverick  By Sasha Planting, 18 May 22, Minerals and Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe drew a line in the sand recently when he said he would not countenance dissent from board members at the National Nuclear Regulator. ‘If you resist nuclear and you [are] a board member, I fire you, simple. You can’t be [on] a board of something you’re not advocating for.’ His comments, reported by News24, are relevant for many reasons, chief among which is a legal challenge to his dismissal of community representative board member Peter Becker……………………………. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-05-18-peter-becker-sacked-from-the-national-nuclear-regulator-board-wont-go-down-without-a-fight/

May 19, 2022 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa: Five years after the illegal nuclear deal was nuked, we are still struggling with a broken energy system

 Daily Maverick By Francesca de Gasparis and Makoma Lekalakala,  02 May 2022, 

The South African government’s current approach to energy production is our biggest barrier to a just transition and it seems as though we are deliberately choosing fossil fuels and nuclear, while implementing renewables at a snail’s pace.

The month of April was not only significant to South Africa as Freedom Month, but was also the month in which Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei) commemorated the court victory that exposed the severity of the corruption within the state and halted government’s “illegal and unconstitutional” R1-trillion nuclear energy deal with Russia……….

Apart from revealing the depths of the rot within government and how far members of the state were willing to go to dupe the public, this was also the start of an intense battle which continues to rage between public interests versus those of government and corporate to protect citizens’ right to be consulted on huge capital spends, especially in energy procurement that may affect them……………..

A publication released at COP26 in December 2021, Neither Climate Nor Jobs: Nuclear Myths About the Just Transition, argues that nuclear will be detrimental to our “collective capacity to transform our energy systems in a way that leaves no one behind”.

While nuclear power operations do not have as large a carbon footprint as coal, gas and oil, there are numerous other issues with this outdated and largely failed technology that must be considered, that make nuclear power utterly unsuitable for South Africa’s energy needs in our current reality. Comparatively, the carbon footprint of nuclear power is estimated to be at least two to four times more than that of renewables.

There are a number of reasons that nuclear energy is NOT a solution to the climate emergency and why it should not be part of the just transition. First, South Africa needs development that is pro-poor, and basic services need to be provided that are affordable to all. This means that the country’s energy plans should work to reduce the gaps in inequality, with the people – not industry nor the economy nor profits – at the centre of its plans.

Sadly, the government’s current approach to energy production is our country’s biggest barrier to a just transition and it seems as though we are deliberately choosing fossil fuels and nuclear, while implementing renewables at a snail’s pace.

Investing in nuclear energy requires huge capital investment – which could have an impact on public spending on social services – while the centralised and costly nature of its production will do little to reduce the widespread energy poverty in the country. When considering the urgent need for poverty-alleviating approaches to development and energy production, the fact that renewables create more jobs (with a wider variety and in more flexible locations) and can be installed in a matter of months, provides more compelling arguments against nuclear.

Furthermore, as climate change takes root and weather conditions become more extreme, a just transition will require a flexible and decentralised electricity supply for greater stability. Without even considering nuclear power stations’ poor installation and cost performance globally, we need only look at South Africa’s only existing nuclear power station at Koeberg to know that nuclear has not proven to be particularly reliable over the past 18 months.

Ongoing issues at the nuclear power station are a significant part of the reason that citizens have been plunged into darkness once again. We must recognise Koeberg’s deteriorating performance while noting the ongoing governance issues at Eskom and the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

Another reason that nuclear energy is not fit for purpose for our current and future energy needs is the outdated argument of the necessity of baseload energy, which completely ignores the strides made in modern technology. This type of centralised power often takes very long to come online and will do little to alleviate the energy poverty in the country. Even in the best-case scenario, it would be at least another decade before we are likely to get any electricity from a new power plant.

Just the fact that we need to keep temperatures below 1.5°C by 2030 means that even if we did go the nuclear route, we would be far too late to mitigate carbon emissions in any meaningful way. Yet, our government insists on wasting time pursuing nuclear, while utility-scale renewable energy projects could be ready in less than half the time. 

South Africa is at a crossroads. Are we really willing to continue making the mistakes of the past?……….

It is important, at this point, to remind South Africans that it was as a result of a national effort by many civil society organisations, academics and concerned citizens that we were able to stop then-President Jacob Zuma’s illegal nuclear deal five years ago, sparing us from the effects of the bankruptcy that would have ensued.


At a time when the divisions in our society were becoming decidedly evident, it was wonderful to be part of such a unifying campaign with people from all walks of life. From eco-justice NGOs to community-based organisations, right down to the ordinary person on the street, most South Africans knew we had to stand together or risk losing our country……..  https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-05-02-five-years-after-the-illegal-nuclear-deal-was-nuked-we-are-still-struggling-with-a-broken-energy-system/

May 3, 2022 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Floods in South Africa – a ”climate catastrophe of enormous proportions”

After the relentless rain, South Africa sounds the alarm on the climate
crisis. Many are still missing after this month’s floods. Extreme weather
is becoming more frequent, and it can be devastating.

The South African president, Cyril Ramaphosa, described a “catastrophe of enormous
proportions” and attributed the disaster to the climate emergency. “It
is telling us that climate change is serious, it is here,” Ramaphosa said
as he visited the flooded metropolitan area of eThekwini, which includes
Durban, shortly after the floods. “We no longer can postpone what we need
to do, and the measures we need to take to deal with climate change.”

 Guardian 24th April 2022

https://www.theguardian.com/world/2022/apr/24/south-africa-floods-rain-climate-crisis-extreme-weather

April 26, 2022 Posted by | climate change, South Africa | Leave a comment

Kenya. Treasury allocates Sh2bn for nuclear and coal units, but nuclear is unlikely to happen for decades.

By LYNET IGADWAH, WEDNESDAY APRIL 20 2022,

SUMMARY

April 21, 2022 Posted by | Kenya, politics | Leave a comment

South Africa. Fired National Nuclear Regulator board member takes Minister Gwede Mantashe to court

 Daily Maverick  By Sasha Planting 20 Apr 22,

Peter Becker is seeking declaratory relief that the minister’s decision to discharge him as a board member was unlawful and unconstitutional, and wants an order reviewing and setting aside this decision.

Peter Becker, formerly a member of the board of the National Nuclear Regulator, has served papers on the minister of mineral resources and energy, the National Nuclear Regulator and the chairman of that body to challenge his dismissal in February this year. 

Becker is seeking declaratory relief that the minister’s decision to discharge him was unlawful and unconstitutional, and wants an order reviewing and setting aside this decision. 

Becker’s initial suspension came in January, just days before the regulator approved the extension of life project for the Koeberg nuclear power station, a decision that should be reviewed, given the delays and safety concerns that have arisen since.  

The role of the regulator is not to protect the interests of Koeberg or nuclear power, but to ensure that nuclear activities are conducted safely in South Africa, ultimately in the interests of the public. 

Becker was appointed to the board in June 2021 by Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe. He was nominated by civil society organisations, including the Koeberg Alert Alliance, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute and the Pelindaba Working Group, to represent communities that may be affected by nuclear activities. 

However, on 25 February Mantashe fired Becker, arguing that he was guilty of misconduct and was conflicted. This was because Becker had, in his personal capacity, and before his appointment, expressed critical and challenging views on the use of nuclear energy.  

“The minister has fundamentally misunderstood those duties. His decision is vitiated by substantive and procedural irrationality, errors of law and fact and unreasonableness,” Becker responds in the affidavit. 

His removal has not come at a good time. Maintenance and replacement work are being carried out at Koeberg, under authorisations granted by the regulator. However, this work is already behind schedule and several safety concerns have been raised. 

Moreover, Mantashe has signalled his intention to tender for new nuclear power proposals as soon as possible, possibly before the year is out. 

The alleged conflict of interest arose because Becker is concerned about the use of nuclear power in South Africa, is opposed to the building of more reactors at Koeberg and is worried about its lifespan being extended. He has been publicly vocal in this regard. However, as Becker has deposed, these views were well known and were included in his CV before he was appointed to the job.  ………………………..

At least one member of the board is actively and vocally pro-nuclear. This is  Katse Maphoto, the chief director of nuclear safety and technology in the minister’s department. On several occasions he has indicated his support for nuclear power, saying it should form part of SA’s energy mix.   

Thus Becker says, it is inconsistent and irrational to take the position that people who are generally critical of nuclear activity should be disqualified from exercising proper judgment concerning safety issues, while those who are supportive, are not. 

The minister has 15 days in which to submit a “record of proceedings” — the documents, evidence, arguments and other information relating to the dismissal — failing which, a court date will be set.  https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2022-04-19-fired-national-nuclear-regulator-board-member-takes-minister-gwede-mantashe-to-court/

April 21, 2022 Posted by | legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

South African Anti-nuclear activist taking Energy Minister to court for firing him

Anti-nuclear activist taking Gwede Mantashe to court for firing him

Fin 24, Lameez Omarjee,  13 Apr 22

  • Anti-nuclear activist Peter Becker has launched a legal challenge against Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe.
  • The minister had axed Becker from the board of the National Nuclear Regulator over an alleged conflict of interest.

Becker is the spokesperson of Koeberg Alert Alliance, a civil society group concerned with the safety of nuclear activity……………….. https://www.news24.com/fin24/economy/anti-nuclear-activist-taking-gwede-mantashe-to-court-for-firing-him-20220413

April 14, 2022 Posted by | legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa removes critic of nuclear power from regulatory board.

South Africa Removes Anti-Nuclear Activist From Regulatory Board

Antony Sguazzin, Bloomberg, 24 Feb 22— South African Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe fired community representative Peter Becker from the board of the National Nuclear Regulator, citing a conflict of interest.

Mantashe said Becker was opposed to the development of new nuclear-power facilities or the extension of the life of South Africa’s existing one, Koeberg, and therefore couldn’t be objective, according to a letter sent to the activist on Friday that was seen by Bloomberg. 

The dispute that led to Becker’s removal highlights the difficulties Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. is facing in its fight to keep its Koeberg nuclear plant in Cape Town operating until 2044. Mantashe, a former coal-mining labor unionist and chairman of the ruling African National Congress, has emerged as a vocal supporter of the nuclear industry, while drawing criticism from environmental activists. Becker, by contrast, is also a spokesman for the Koeberg Alert Alliance, which wants the plant closed……….

By law, the minister has to appoint a community representative to the board. He complained, in the letter, that Becker had brought the board into disrepute by objecting publicly to its decisions. Becker was suspended on July 18 and then sued Mantashe, forcing the minister to make a decision whether to retain him or fire him from the board.

Becker said he will consult with his legal team and the communities he was representing before responding.


While Eskom has yet to receive final permission to extend the life of Koeberg, the only nuclear-power facility in Africa, it has started a program to spend about 20 billion rand ($1.3 billion) on new steam generators as part of the work needed to keep it operating. Becker and Koeberg Alert have opposed the extension of Koeberg’s operating license because of the nuclear plant’s proximity to Cape Town, a city of 4 million people, citing what they say is a potential for earthquakes.  https://www.bnnbloomberg.ca/south-africa-removes-anti-nuclear-activist-from-regulatory-board-1.1728817

February 26, 2022 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Fight Over Africa’s Sole Atomic Plant Entangles Energy Minister Mantashe

Mantashe sued over suspension of activist from the board
Eskom plans to extend Koeberg plant’s operating lifetime, 
Bloomberg, By Antony Sguazzin, 2 February 2022, South African Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe is being sued following the suspension of a National Nuclear Regulator board member who also works with a civil society group fighting against the lifetime extension of the continent’s only power reactors.

The suit filed by Peter Becker, who in addition to serving on the nuclear regulator’s board is a spokesman for the Koeberg Alert Alliance, will be heard by the High Court of Cape Town on Feb. 8, according to public documents seen by Bloomberg. South Africa is legally obliged to appoint a nuclear regulatory board member who represents communities potentially affected by industry decisions…………..

Becker, who was suspended on Jan. 18, argues in the documents that Mantashe didn’t have the legal authority to suspend him from performing his duties on the regulatory board. “The role of a board member representing the interests and concerns of communities is defined by the National Nuclear Regulatory Act” and “while I am suspended, decisions are being taken by the board without that representation,” he wrote in a reply to questions. 

The court case highlights the difficulties Eskom Holdings SOC Ltd. is facing in its fight to keep its Koeberg nuclear plant in Cape Town operating until 2044. Mantashe, a former coal mining unionist and chairman of the ruling African National Congress, has emerged as a vocal supporter of the nuclear industry, while drawing criticism from environmental activists. ……………… https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2022-02-02/fight-over-africa-s-sole-nuclear-plant-ensnares-energy-minister

February 3, 2022 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

Tanzania seeking information on ‘nuclear waste’ ship detained in Mombasa

Tanzania seeking information on ‘nuclear waste’ ship detained in Mombasa, TUESDAY DECEMBER 21 2021   The Citizen News, East Africa News Additional reporting by Gadiosa Lamtey in Dar es Salaam    https://www.thecitizen.co.tz/tanzania/news/east-africa-news/tanzania-seeking-information-on-nuclear-waste-ship-detained-in-mombasa-3659422 Summary   Kenyan media reported on Monday that MV Piraeus Voy, which as docked at the port of Mombasa, was loaded with harmful nuclear waste that was to have been dumped on the East African coast, endangering the health of millions of people in the region.

Dar es Salaam/Mombasa. The government said yesterday that it was unaware that Kenyan authorities have detained a cargo ship carrying nuclear waste that was reportedly on its way to Tanzania.
“We have not received any information about the ship, but I will get in touch with the relevant authorities for any details on the matter,” the permanent secretary in charge of transport in the Ministry of Works and Transport, Mr Gabriel Migire, told The Citizen when reached for comment, adding that any ship coming to Tanzania was required to fly the country’s flag.

Kenyan media reported yesterday that the ship, which as docked at the port of Mombasa, was loaded with harmful nuclear waste that was to have been dumped on the East African coast, endangering the health of millions of people in the region.

The cargo on board the MV Piraeus Voy was disguised as padlocks and other hardware items, and was detained after Kenya’s Health ministry raised the alarm that it was carrying radioactive material.

Officials investigating the matter said the ship sailed to Kenya from Mumbai, India, and was en route to neighbouring Tanzania.
“This is clearly a means of dumping dangerous substances in East Africa. We have proof that what was declared is just part of the contents, but the radioactive material is also in the ship, and is emitting high radiation,” a source involved in an ongoing investigation said on condition of anonymity as he is not authorised to speak to the media.

Exposure to high levels of radiation from nuclear waste can cause severe health effects such as skin burns and acute radiation syndrome (radiation sickness). It can also result in long-term health effects such as cancer and cardiovascular disease.
A multi-agency team comprising officials drawn from various government agencies at the Mombasa port has differed on how to best handle the cargo, which was reportedly destined for Dar es Salaam Port.

December 24, 2021 Posted by | AFRICA, secrets,lies and civil liberties, wastes | Leave a comment

Call to rally against extending the lifespan of ageing Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

Call to rally against extending the lifespan of ageing Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, IOL. By Kristin Engel, 17 Dec,  Cape Town – The Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (Safcei), together with concerned Capetonians gathered on Bloubergstrand Beach for an anti-nuclear protest to question the safety of the nearby nuclear plant operated by Eskom.

The protesters’ chants of “down with nuclear” came as Eskom tries to extend the Koeberg plant’s operating life by another 20 years, after its initial 40-year lifespan ends in 2024, despite numerous challenges and safety concerns at the plant.

Safcei executive director Francesca de Gasparis said Eskom had been quiet about its plans for South Africa’s only nuclear power plant and have not provided information about this process or given the public sufficient evidence that it was safe and in the interests of electricity users to extend the lifespan of the ageing nuclear plant.

Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement member Vainola Makan said: “We are certain that because of the lack of access to information and the lack of transparency, only private business individuals will benefit from this deal and the interests of citizens is of no concern.”

KAA spokesperson Peter Becker called on Eskom to shut down the Koeberg nuclear power plant as planned in 2024, and stop their attempts to extend its designed lifespan, especially with the old engineering and increasing problems at the plant.

However, the electricity supplier was adamant about the extension of the plant’s lifespan.

………  National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) spokesperson Gino Moonsamy said Eskom’s application would be undergoing a detailed review process in which the NNR would direct Eskom to publish the application for comment in local newspapers and serve notification letters to stakeholders.

Moonsamy said only after the NNR considered the insights and representations from public consultation, would they finalise the decision on the application and announce the decision on whether the plant would be able to operate beyond its current licensing basis.  https://www.iol.co.za/capeargus/news/call-to-rally-against-extending-the-lifespan-of-ageing-koeberg-nuclear-power-station-3826d950-5658-410e-9ca9-6dc8d2fc202b

December 18, 2021 Posted by | safety, South Africa | Leave a comment

Kenya’s $5billion nuclear power dream is delayed by 10 years

Kenya Delays $5 Billion Nuclear Power Dream by Decade on Demand, Bloomberg, By David Herbling 17 November 2021  Kenya will delay by a decade plans to build its first-ever nuclear power plant, a $5 billion facility, to ensure a match between power supply and demand, according to the Nuclear Power and Energy Agency.

The initial 1,000-megawatt plant is now projected to be connected to the grid in 2036, said Erick Ohaga, the state-owned agency’s director of nuclear energy infrastructure development. An earlier plan was to have the plant supply home and industries by 2026.

“Time-lines have changed because power supply needs to follow demand,” Ohaga said by phone on Wednesday. ….. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2021-11-17/kenya-delays-5-billion-nuclear-power-dream-by-decade-on-demand

November 18, 2021 Posted by | Kenya, politics | Leave a comment

FW de Klerk, who ended South African apartheid, leaves another legacy: nuclear disarmament


FW de Klerk, who ended South African apartheid, leaves another legacy: nuclear disarmament, Bulletin 

By Robin Ephraim Möser | November 12, 2021 Almost nothing suggested that former South African president Frederik Willem de Klerk would be the one to dismantle apartheid. He was born into a family of politicians of the nascent apartheid state, became a member of Parliament in 1972, and was complicit in—even supportive of—all the evil committed under apartheid during numerous ministerial posts. But while serving as president, de Klerk stunned the world in February 1990 when he removed the ban on opposition political movements, including the African National Congress, and released political prisoners, including the individual with whom he would later share the Nobel Peace Prize—Nelson Mandela.

De Klerk’s death at the age of 85 this week has been widely reported in the New York Times, the BBCder Spiegel, the Daily Maverick, and other international media. Yet none mention that, under his leadership in 1991, South Africa joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and fully dismantled the country’s nuclear weapons arsenal.

De Klerk believed that nuclear weapons, having lost their deterrence value following the end of the regional conflicts, would subsequently burden his government. Two weeks after assuming the presidency, he held a top-secret meeting of advisors in which he requested a plan to rid the country of nuclear weapons. Those who attended agreed, though some rather grudgingly, as he recounted in my 2017 interview with him………..

Almost three decades later, in my 2017 interview with him, de Klerk revealed that his distaste for nuclear weapons preceded his presidency. He had decided that if ever he became president, he would review South Africa’s nuclear weapons program. He had that chance by 1990—and seized the denuclearization opportunity.

De Klerk’s nuclear rollback was complete and verifiable. Not only was South Africa free of nuclear weapons, but the development served as a catalyst for Africa as a nuclear-weapon-free zone. In 1995, President Nelson Mandela and other African heads of state signed the Treaty of Pelindaba, which forbade atomic bomb testing and banned nuclear weapons from the African continent.

South Africa remains the only country to have gone full circle on nuclear weapons. The South African National Party politicians initiated a nuclear weapons program during the 1970s and de Klerk ended it in 1989. De Klerk expressed the hope that South Africa’s example might inspire the nine leaders of other nuclear weapons states—the United States, the United Kingdom, Russia, France, China, India, Pakistan, Israel, and North Korea—to eliminate their arsenals. The world can only hope that, over time, they do. https://thebulletin.org/2021/11/fw-de-klerk-who-ended-south-african-apartheid-leaves-another-legacy-nuclear-disarmament/

November 13, 2021 Posted by | PERSONAL STORIES, South Africa, weapons and war | Leave a comment