Johannesburg - Earthlife Africa has expressed
shock and outrage at the approval by the department of environmental affairs
of an assessment that says the environmental impact of a planned pocket nuclear
reactor near Cape Town
The environmental organisation has already secured a court date, on September
9, to continue its court action against Eskom's proposed construction of a
pebble bed modular reactor at Koeberg.
An urgent application to the Pretoria
high court failed in early June.
By approving the report before the court case was heard, the department
appeared "to be ignoring the legal process, a case of bad manners at the
least", Earthlife Africa said.
"The department appears to have adopted a cart-before-the horse
approach, washing its hands of any responsibility for the critical
environmental issues: those of safety and waste," the environmental
organisation's Liz McDaid said.
"We are in the process of consulting with our legal advisers but we will
certainly consider taking the decision on appeal. Judicial review is not
Eskom welcomed the department's decision, saying it paved the way for the
next phase of a "locally driven, leading edge nuclear technology project".
The power utility said the decision was "a major step towards the
completion of the detailed feasibility phase of the project, which included
an intensive environmental impact assessment performed by independent
It would be inappropriate to comment on specific issues during the 30-day
period in which any party may lodge appeals with the department of
environmental affairs, Eskom said, since the appeals would be handled by that
Earthlife Africa said that not only had the impact assessment process had
been "flawed", but it also found the "Pontius Pilate [washing
its hands] attitude of the government to its responsibilities extremely
"Despite considered opposition from public and environmental groups,
including opposition from the Cape Town local authority, despite no solution
for the spent fuel, despite using consultants who had worked for Eskom for
the last 15 years, and despite numerous process and content problems, the
government has approved" the assessment report.
Earthlife Africa also said it had hoped that the recent report on the
long-term cost of nuclear power in Britain, and the multibillion rand cleanup
bill that country, "and ultimately its people", would have to bear,
would have been enough to convince the South African government that nuclear
power was uneconomical.
The department was not available for comment.
Published on the web by Business Report on June 30, 2003.
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2003. All rights reserved.