- Government still supports nuke plans & its nuke industry is likely to turn to dangerous tactics like U-enrichment & radioactive waste to fund its ambitions
5 December 2008There is little reason for over optimism about Eskom’s decision today not to invest in foreign companies for the Nuclear-1 project plant while the government remains committed to its nuclear power programme.
The Board of Eskom Holding Limited announced its decision on December 5 not to proceed with the proposed investment in Nuclear-1 project due to the magnitude of the investment. The proposed Nuclear 1 project would have resulted in the construction of the country’s second pressurized water reactor nuclear power plant. Koeberg Power Station is South Africa’s first and only nuclear power station.
There remains a deliberate silence over the ill-conceived experimental Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) which has already cost taxpayers over R16 bn (some estimates put this figure closer to R32 bn), and the nuclear industry’s stated intention to re-launch uranium enrichment plant at Pelindaba and “reprocess” radioactive waste to fund nuclear power projects.
The country stopped enriching uranium in 1997 following the dismantling of its apartheid-era nuclear weapons programme.
Nuclear officials have repeatedly said they intend planting up to 36 PBMRs throughout South Africa and elsewhere in Africa and, we fear, intend to trade and traffic in radioactive waste to fund this.
Already the mechanism exists for an untouchable and virtually privatised State-run business via a Radioactive Waste Management Agency, which was approved this year.
Officials in the nuclear industry and Minerals & Energy have declared government’s intention to re-launch extremely hazardous and highly energy intensive uranium enrichment & reprocessing plans, and sold the notion by using words like “recycling”, “sustainable” and “renewable”. The DME’s Nuclear Chief Tseliso Maqubela sold the idea to government last year by announcing that despite the hefty costs of building a uranium enrichment plant, its “profits are big”.
The approved radioactive waste Smelters at Pelindaba await licensing despite long-standing opposition for fear that these will be commercialised, leading to nuclear waste dumping by other nuclear countries on South Africa for profit.
In addition, former Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin announced some time back that old Russian nuclear warheads will be “brought in to fuel the PBMRs”.
Questions remain unanswered over the brazen “military-styled” attacks by two armed groups last November on the heavily guarded Pelindaba Complex which is stores hundreds of tons of weapons-grade radioactive spent uranium fuel (HEU) enough to build a dozen atomic bombs. International reports claim the attackers were after the HEU and had inside help. South Africa has been implicated in nuclear-trafficking rings in at least three trials in the recent past.
South Africans can only rest once the nails are hammered into the coffin of the Nuclear Energy Bill, the PBMR and calls for South Africa to hand over its HEU for international safekeeping are heeded.
(Below you’ll find some of the recent news reports on Eskom’s decision.)
Dominique GilbertCoordinatorPELINDABA WORKING GROUP& member of the COALITION AGAINST NUCLEAR ENERGYhttp://www.cane.org.za
(A reflection of how inane the electricity debate here remains… not even a mention of who is really responsible for guzzling SA electricity, just a stupid prediction of ‘decades of darkness’…)
SA set for decades of darkness
December 06, 2008 Edition 1
by Thabiso Thakali, www.iol.co.za
South Africa faces up to two decades of electricity crises after Eskom decided to pull the plug on the construction of a second nuclear power station, experts have warned.
Eskom announced yesterday that it had decided not to proceed with the proposed building of its second nuclear power station because of the magnitude of the investment.
Environmentalists called it a “watershed moment” in South Africa’s history of energy supply, but energy experts said it meant the electricity crisis was going to remain in the country for at least the next 15 to 20 years.
Andrew Kenny, an independent energy expert, said the decision means South Africans will have to keep their candles handy for many more years.
“We are already struggling with a very low reserve margin and they(Eskom) are basically telling us that we will run out of capacity again in the near future.”
Kenny said although capital costs for building a nuclear power station were higher than those for a coal-fired power station, it would cost less to run and maintain such a plant considering it would last longer than a coal-fired plant.
However, Tristen Taylor, a policy officer with Earthlife Africa, said by cancelling its plans to build a new reactor Eskom has saved the country from “economic ruin”.
Eskom spokesman Tony Stott said the decision did not mean Eskom would no longer consider building nuclear power stations.
“We now have a downturn in the economy which means we have a leeway of about 12 to 18 months in terms of how quickly we need to build power stations as per the projections made,” he said.
“And in terms of government’s nuclear policy and commitments to the Accelerated Shared Growth Initiative of SA (AsgiSA) government wanted more local companies to take part in the project.”
He said the decision would have no implications for the development of the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR). But he warned that the electricity grid would remain tight going forward unless consumption levels were reduced by the required 10%.
Stott said the government and Eskom would now review a 4% projection growth on electricity demand given that a lot of manufacturing companies had now indicated they would cut down on their production.
Eskom had hoped to raise R300 billion for its expansion programme in the next five years but according to Stott, the utility’s balance sheet is not strong enough to handle this scale of spending.
This is largely because, Stott added, Eskom was unable to get the 60% electricity tariff hikes earlier this year. “Rating agencies downgraded us and therefore we couldn’t get the money we hoped to raise,” he said.
As part of its long-term plans to double its generation capacity by 2025, Eskom had hoped the first of the proposed nuclear power plants would add about 3 500 megawatts of capacity to its grid.
Koeberg power station is the only nuclear power station and two groups of companies led by French company Areva and US-based Westinghouse were bidding for the construction of the proposed plant.
Serge Lafont, Areva South Africa chairman, said the company was disappointed by Eskom’s decision even though he said they remained committed to being Eskom’s partner in the future.
“You must understand that when we put up the bid we did so with intent to win,” he said. “So this is like a loss to us but that is the nature of life. Government has said it is still willing to continue with nuclear as part of its energy mix therefore we remain hopeful that we will still be Eskom’s partner.”…………………………………………
Nuclear powers on without Eskom
December 5, 2008
Johannesburg – South Africa remains committed to its nuclear power programme despite Eskom’s decision not to proceed with the construction of a second nuclear power plant, a government official said on Friday.
“The South African government remains committed to introducing nuclear because we have to deal with our carbon footprint and we have to diversify our energy mix,” Portia Molefe, director general at the Department of Public Enterprises told Reuters and other reporters present at the announcement.
Sapa reported that Eskom will not proceed with its proposed investment in the Nuclear-1 project due to the magnitude of the sum involved, the parastatal said on Friday.
The proposed Nuclear 1 project would have resulted in the construction of the country’s second pressurised water reactor nuclear power plant.
Koeberg Power Station is South Africa’s first and only nuclear power station.
Eskom said that, as a result, it has also terminated the tender process to select the preferred bidder for the construction of the Nuclear-1 project.
The two bidders, the EPR consortium led by Areva of France and the N-Powerment consortium led by Westinghouse of the USA, have been informed of Eskom’s decision.
“The board has expressed its appreciation to the two bidders for their interest in the Eskom build programme, and in particular their desire to participate in the nuclear industry in South Africa,” said Eskom chief executive Jacob Maroga.
“We were impressed by their professionalism throughout the bid process.” – Sapa and Reuters
ESKOM NOT IN A POSITION TO INVEST IN NUCLEAR
The Board of Eskom Holding Limited announced today its decision not to proceed with the proposed investment in Nuclear-1 project due to the magnitude of the investment. The proposed Nuclear 1 project would have resulted in the construction of the country’s second pressurized water reactor nuclear power plant. Koeberg Power Station is South Africa’s first and only nuclear power station.
The proposed Nuclear 1 project would have resulted in the construction of the country’s second pressurized water reactor nuclear power plant. Koeberg Power Station is South Africa’s first and only nuclear power station.
The Eskom Board has, as a result, terminated the commercial procurement process to select the preferred bidder for the construction of the Nuclear-1 project. The two bidders, the EPR consortium led by Areva of France and the N-Powerment consortium led by Westinghouse of the USA, have been informed of this decision of the Eskom Board.
“The Board has expressed its appreciation to the two bidders for their interest in the Eskom build programme, and in particular their desire to participate in the nuclear industry in South Africa. We were impressed by their professionalism throughout the bid process. We thank them for their patience and understanding during the past few months”, says Mr Jacob Maroga, Chief Executive of Eskom Holdings Limited.ENDS
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