Greenpeace lodges nuclear complaint

2012-11-19 09:22
Japan will abandon nuclear power within the next three decades under new government policy. (AP)

Japan will abandon nuclear power within the next three decades under new government policy. (AP)

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Cape Town - Environmental group Greenpeace has lodged a formal complaint with the Public Protector and SA Human Rights Commission after the ministry of energy refused to release the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR).

The activist organisation wants to examine the review which was commissioned to investigate whether SA was ready to build additional nuclear power stations.

According to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), there are 19 criteria that a country must meet before construction on a nuclear facility can go ahead.

These include issues of waste, financial capacity and safety of the operations of the proposed nuclear facility.

"These criteria clearly show that South Africa lacks the capacity to build new nuclear power stations. We have neither the money nor the skills to develop nuclear power. So the question is: Why would the department share the document with the IAEA but not share it with South African civil society? What has the government got to hide?" said Greenpeace Africa energy campaigner Ferrial Adam.

Anger


According to the IAEA, a nuclear facility must also have a clear plan for safety and emergency workers in the event of a crisis and the site has to pass scrutiny on insulating the public from possible nuclear radiation.

Greenpeace has long campaigned against nuclear power in SA and the organisation has become particularly vocal after the earthquake and tsunami disaster in Japan that caused a nuclear incident at the Fukushima Daiichi plant.

Japan shut down nuclear power stations and evacuated residents living in a 20km radius from the plant, but public heartbreak turned to anger when details of corruption of Tokyo Electric Power Company (Tepco) officials emerged.

The South African government through state-owned entity Eskom is under pressure to secure electricity supply which is under severe strain during winter, but plans are in place to commission both coal and nuclear power stations.

Minister of energy Dipuo Peters has publically supported the expansion of nuclear energy, despite objections from environmental groups.

"The continued secrecy and lack of engagement with civil society will lead to poor governance and corruption as we have already witnessed in the arms deal. The issue of transparency is a critical one," said Adam.

The organisation plans to seek legal opinion of the rejection of the Protection of Access to Information Act request.


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