By Babalo Ndenze
Eskom’s proposed nuclear power station to be built next to Koeberg could pose a serious threat to residents as the power utility had failed to address a number of concerns such as health risks and an emergency evacuation plan.
This was said at a meeting yesterday of the city council’s planning and environment portfolio committee (Pepco), which raised a number of concerns about the proposed nuclear station during a discussion on the draft environmental impact report by Eskom.
The committee said the report had failed to address issues such as an emergency plan, health risks, nuclear waste, security and economic growth.
Pepco’s concerns were highlighted on the same day that the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) told Parliament that public objections to building a nuclear power plant must be based on proven threats to either health or the environment.
Briefing members of Parliament’s economic development select committee, NNR strategy executive Joe Mwase said these were the only factors considered by the regulator when deciding on a nuclear power plant application.
The city’s strategy and planning director, Keith Wiseman, told Pepco: “The decision on the site will be made without consideration on the impact on health. A key implication in Cape Town is around the emergency plan. The possible impact on the city has not been assessed and that’s a problem for us as a city.”
Between 5 000 and 10 000 people would work on the construction of the site and this would take at least 10 years.
“So housing is also a challenge that’s not assessed. This will also have a significant impact on tourism and will also push up rent prices,” he said.
Councillor Gisela Jespersen (DA) said she found it “extremely irritating” that Eskom had not taken the issue of land availability into account.
“When Koeberg was built it was supposed to be far away. And we have discussed (the existing) evacuation plan, but no one has ever tried it,” said Jespersen.
Eskom’s five proposed sites for the nuclear station had been narrowed down to three: Thyspunt (Eastern Cape), Bantamsklip and Duynefontein next to Koeberg.
Frank Raymond of the DA failed to understand how the Northern Cape had been removed as an option.
The report says that as a result of the difficulty to integrate with the electricity transmission system, the Northern Cape sites had been removed from further consideration.
“How can Northern Cape be discarded, it makes more sense. The EIA at this stage is seriously flawed. In 2004 Greenpeace landed on the dome (of Koeberg) so clearly there’s no security. They can’t look after a key point. The area is already densely populated and they now want to have a second (nuclear plant). This is a real danger and a real threat,” said Raymond.
Vincent Bergh of the ACDP said all the nuclear waste lying in Koeberg was already a “real threat”.
“People living in the area (near Koeberg) are not covered by normal insurance. If anything happens all the properties will be evacuated and won’t be used for the next 100 years,” said Bergh.
He said although Eskom had two other sites, “Eskom is moving ahead because in any event they intend to build in the future on that site”.
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