NATIONAL COALITION TO OPPOSE NUCLEAR EXPANSION IN SOUTH AFRICA
22 August 2007
Coalition Against Nuclear Energy (CANE)
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NGOs, CBOs and individuals throughout South Africans have formed a broadbased national coalition to oppose the expansion of the nuclear industry and to demand a commitment to public participation in energy planning.
“Not just Cabinet alone, but all sectors together should decide on energy policy in South Africa,” said the statement of the newly-formed Coalition Against Nuclear Energy (CANE) a week after the South African Government released its draft Nuclear Energy Strategy Policy.
CANE has been formed as an umbrella group comprising community organisations, residents’ associations, NGOs, academics, professionals, unionists, environmentalists and ordinary citizens now grappling with the spectre of nuclear developments in their back yards.
They represent a groundswell of ordinary people who want government to act democratically in seeking alternative energy crisis and climate change solutions.
Most of these communities are concerned about the unnecessary and heavily subsidised costs, nuclear safety and the unresolved problem of long-term spent fuel storage.
Seven sites have been chosen for new nuclear reactors: from the Northern, Western and Eastern Cape, while Pelindaba in the North West Province has been offered nuclear enrichment facilities, nuclear fuel fabrication and nuclear smelter plants.
Communities living near the nuclear dump site in the Namaqualand also now face the spectre of increased volumes of radioactive nuclear waste of higher levels than before being foisted on their region.
This also means that nuclear material will become a permanent fixture on South African national transport routes – along highways, by rail, ship and plane. Vast tracts of the country will be mined for uranium – providing lucrative short-term returns for a few at the expense of the slow painful genocide of disadvantaged communities.
“Everyone in South Africa will now face the same danger from Koeberg nuclear power station,” said CANE, “because Eskom is planning to install up to 24 Pebble-Bed Modular Reactors (PBMRs) all over the country – and another 10 or more conventional Pressurised Water Reactors (PWRs), like Koeberg.
“We believe we have to oppose this unilateral decision on the part of Cabinet to determine a radioactive future for us all. Ordinary communities need to be heard and our Constitutional rights – especially our right to an environment free of radioactive pollution – must be respected – not eroded.”
“We do not support construction of new nuclear reactors as a means of addressing the climate change. Available renewable energy and energy efficiency technologies are faster, cheaper, safer and cleaner strategies for reducing greenhouse emissions than nuclear power.”
The more organisations and people sign on, the faster the media and politicians will get the message.
CANE said: “It is necessary to provide cohesive opposition to dictatorial government decisions that would seek to foist a radioactive future on all. Voters must be heard by government and other key stakeholders. Accountability and transparency of decision-makers is paramount. “
The coalition aims to:
· Counter government propaganda on nuclear development and encourage informed and educated public debate from the most disadvantaged squatter settlements to the most affluent suburbs
· Provide a forum for civil society to collaborate on efforts to oppose nuclear developments
· Provide resources and access to information that is being withheld from the SA public
· Seek legal advice to protect constitutional rights from being eroded by the nuclear strategy and support and strengthen citizens’ access to justice
· Promote a culture of human rights, democracy and the rule of law in terms of nuclear energy policies and frameworks
· Encourage transparent, accountable and participatory governance of nuclear energy policy
· Form links with international anti-nuclear groups
· Make the future of the nuclear industry in SA an election issue aimed at the following:
- a non-nuclear energy future in Africa that takes into consideration all the global challenges of climate change and results in a greater measure of decentralized, community-owned energy generation using renewable, sustainable alternative energy sources and technologies.
- prevention of any nuclear waste dumping in Africa no matter how lucrative the allure.
The methods used by the nuclear industry to prevent most South Africans from questioning or fully understanding the dangers of nuclear energy have become clear during the numerous environmental impact assessments currently underway throughout the Republic.
Massive one-sided propaganda has not only prevented an informed public debate on nuclear energy but ensured that nuclear developments are fast-tracked with pretence at “public participation” which has served only to rubberstamp pre-determined plans. This has become known as “greenwashing”.
CANE said: “With a global and national energy crisis upon us, we believe it incumbent on government to honour the sentiments in the 1999 White Paper on Energy and to explore all alternative and environmentally sustainable energy options before forcing a nuclear future on this country.”
Issued by: Coalition Against Nuclear Energy
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