No nuclear Zuma, says Greenpeace

2013-07-29 11:10
Nuclear power station control room. (Vahid Salemi, AP, File)

Nuclear power station control room. (Vahid Salemi, AP, File)

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Cape Town - An environmental activist organisation has slammed as "underhanded" the government's moves toward nuclear energy, despite public objections.

"The plethora of confusion and the lack of accountability by government goes against the fundamentals of democracy and shows government’s disregard for its citizens," said Greenpeace energy campaigner, Ferrial Adam.

The Mail and Guardian reported on Friday that President Jacob Zuma has replaced deputy president Kgalema Motlanthe as chair of the National Nuclear Energy Co-ordination Committee.

The committee is to manage a tender for an expansion of the country's nuclear energy capacity, estimated to be worth up to R1 trillion.

The government dismissed the report, saying that the move was intended to create efficiencies in management.

"Government dismisses suggestions that the restructuring was an attempt to remove the deputy president from the structure," said acting government spokesperson Phumla Williams.

Greenpeace had harsh words for the move, also seen as Zuma's attempt to consolidate power around himself at the expense of Motlanthe who made an unsuccessful bid for presidency at the Mangaung conference.


"Such behaviour was witnessed during the arms deal and Greenpeace hopes that South Africa is not heading for another arms deal fiasco with the nuclear plan," said Adam, alluding to the corruption allegations around the multi-billion rand arms deal.

The global nuclear industry has taken a hit after the Fukushima disaster in Japan which resulted in the operator Tepco (Tokyo Electric Power Company) having to shut down nuclear power stations while the country conducted inspections for safety.

Germany scaled back its nuclear power which made up 20% of power generation in 2011 in reaction to the Japanese crisis.

According to the Economist, nuclear energy is in decline around the world, as nations consider the impact of a disaster.

"The [nuclear] industry’s role in electricity production is continuing to decline, according to this year's World Nuclear Industry Status Report, a compendium of analysis and data by the activist and expert Mycle Schneider.

"The number of reactors peaked in 2002 at 444, compared with 427 today. The share of electricity they produce is down 12% from its 2006 peak, largely because of post-Fukushima shutdowns in Japan. As a proportion of all electricity generated, nuclear peaked in 1993 at 17% and has now fallen to 10%," said the Economist.

Greenpeace said that it was time for SA to seriously invest in renewable energy projects like solar and wind power plants.

"Instead of wasting money and putting it into nuclear energy, we're saying that now is the time to put it into renewable energy," said Adam.

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