Thyspunt activists celebrate as Eskom abandons nuclear site

Thyspunt, where government is planning on building the first nuclear power plant since Koeberg.
Thyspunt, where government is planning on building the first nuclear power plant since Koeberg.

Johannesburg - Anti-nuclear pressure group the Thyspunt Alliance has welcomed Eskom’s decision to build its proposed new nuclear reactor at Duynefontein, near Koeberg in Cape Town, instead of the originally preferred site at St Francis Bay, about 70km from Port Elizabeth in the Eastern Cape.

The alliance of 10 organisations comprises environmentalists, civic bodies and cultural activists.

This week, Eskom announced that the department of environmental affairs had granted it permission to proceed with its new nuclear installation at Duynefontein rather than Thyspunt.

Thyspunt Alliance coordinator Trudie Malan told City Press: “We are very happy. For us, it was just a wrong choice. Eskom and the environmental affairs department looked at our input and we think they made a fair decision.

“It took hard work and dedication, but if you commit yourself and put issues forward, you will be heard.”

Peter Becker, spokesperson for Koeberg Alert, another anti-nuclear activist organisation, said: “Koeberg is far too close to Cape Town for a nuclear plant. All the spent fuel, which is high-level waste, is being kept at Koeberg. About 1.2 million kilograms of high-level waste is being kept there. The country has no plans for what to do with that waste, and it is irresponsible to built another reactor when we do not know what to do with the waste from the previous reactor.”

Greg Christy, representing the chokka/squid industry, said: “We are overjoyed. About 2 500 fishermen’s jobs would have been affected by this project. It was also going to affect squid breeding in the area, which is pristine and a unique part of our coastline.”

Gamtkwa Khoisan Council representative Kobus Reichert said the Khoi people’s heritage site in Thyspunt would have been affected. “We have been involved in this battle for the past six years ... They would have destroyed one of the most important cultural landscapes in South Africa.”

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