Eskom gets nod to develop new nuclear power station

Johannesburg – Eskom has permission to develop a new nuclear plant next to the existing Koeberg power station in the Western Cape.

A statement issued by the power utility on Friday revealed that the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) authorised its Final Environmental Impact Report for the power station at Duynefontein.

Eskom’s chief nuclear officer Dave Nicholls said this is considered an “important milestone” in developing the country’s nuclear programme.

Five sites were investigated which include Brazil and Schulpfontein in the Northern Cape, Bantamsklip  and Duynefontein in the Western Cape, and Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape.

Following the scoping phase, Brazil and Schulpfontein have been excluded for further environmental studies while the other sites are still usable in the future as no “fatal flaws” have been identified, Eskom said.

“Throughout the EIA (environmental impact assessment) process, more than thirty five studies were undertaken, with some revised and updated, by experienced specialists and a comprehensive Public Participation Process (PPP) was undertaken.

“The granted authorisation is confirmation of the adequacy of the extensive work undertaken,” confirmed Nicholls.

Eskom is committed to working within regulations, the statement read.

However, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse (OUTA) which has been challenging Eskom’s nuclear build programme, claims to have “plenty of ammo” left to dispute any claims of progress being made by the power utility.

Speaking to Fin24 on Friday, Ted Blom, director of the energy portfolio, said that such a decision by the DEA is premature. “It is absolutely premature, with the whole nuclear IRP justification process still a work in progress,” he said. “Any claims of progress are totally premature.”

Blom added that OUTA is building up a case against the Department of Energy regarding its Integrated Resource Plan and its National Energy Efficiency Strategy which are “out of tune”, and that it would take further action if nuclear were "steamrolled". 

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