Those who wish to appeal against the outcome of the public participation process on the proposed new nuclear power station in Cape Town have very little time to do so.
Organisations and environmental activists say the new nuclear power station is unaffordable, irrational and potentially harmful.
Eskom was given the green light to build and operate a new nuclear power station at the 600 hectare Duynefontein site that lies next to Koeberg Nuclear Power Station on the West Coast.
The Environmental Affairs Department said the power utility had permission to proceed with the nuclear installation. They said that those who wished to appeal had 20 working days since permission was granted.
Melita Steele, a climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Africa, said the decision flew in the face of rational decision-making and due process.
“The reality is that nuclear is unaffordable and South Africans will end up paying the price for any new nuclear power station through rapidly escalating electricity prices. The fact that nuclear is never safe also means that any new nuclear power station will increase the risk of a catastrophic nuclear accident occurring in South Africa,” Steele said.
Saliem Fakir, from the World Wide Fund in South Africa, said: “The important issue here is that fundamental questions remain as to whether we need a nuclear investment, given the dark cloud that continues to hang over Eskom and the many irregularities that have been raised about the utility’s performance.
“In light of the poor governance at Eskom and the very weak state of South Africa’s economy, we should take a step back,” Fakir said.
“This is not the time for rash decisions, but a time for prudence,” he added.
Sabelo Malaza, the chief director at the Department of Environmental Affairs, said: “Eskom lodged an application for environmental authorisation in 2007 and commissioned an environmental consultancy, Gibb, to conduct the environmental impact assessment process.”
Initially, five sites were identified in the Northern Cape, Eastern Cape and a second in the Western Cape.
“The Duynefontein site was selected given that there were generally less overall environmental impacts associated with this site relative to impacts associated with the development of a ‘greenfields’ site. The Duynefontein site is also adjacent to the existing Koeberg nuclear power station, thereby allowing for a suite of logistical and operational synergies,” Malaza said.
The Faith Communities Institute said the green light for Eskom would not end electricity price hikes.
Liziwe McDaid‚ the institute’s energy expert‚ said it was not prudent to allow Eskom to “continue to overestimate its demand and then claw back revenue it did not make”.