What are the people’s concerns with our government’s planned nuclear deal? A People’s Hearing was held for affected communities and civil society to make their voices heard, organised by SAFCEI, together with Earthlife Africa Jhb and the Heinrich Boell Foundation.
Together a People’s Statement was written, which civil society handed over to Parliament, outlining the many concerns.
We, the undersigned South Africans, gathered here at the St Mary’s Presbytery in Cape Town on 29th and 30th November 2016 note with deep concern:
- That government has taken steps to implement a nuclear energy programme with the estimated cost of a trillion rands with a total lack of transparency and openness with regards to these plans. Who said we need this? Did they ask us?
- People can only be oppressed if they are not informed about plans that impact their lives on multiple levels.
- That South Africa is still fixated on large power plants for large industry and only a small amount of energy goes to households.
- We also note that the baseload argument is no longer valid. Renewable energy can be used to benefit citizens; citizens who can potentially own the renewable energy facilities and be about creating numerous jobs.
- That Medupi and Kusile are not finished, that energy supply is not benefiting South Africans but is instead used for industries and the value leaves the country.
- People living next to large power plants cannot use or afford electricity generated by them – electricity is instead used for industry.
- Renewable energy will build a decentralized economy and benefit those that have been excluded from participation in the economy. A renewable energy revolution, if implemented sensitively and strategically can close the gap between the rich and the poor.
- That the current nuclear preparation bill allows Zuma’s friend’s son to earn R171 million.
- Our Constitutional rights have been violated – people don’t have any information.
- That the National Nuclear Regulator is not independent.
- Nuclear depletes ground water, creates radioactive dust which contaminates water and land, health and livestock and negatively impacts on local markets and local economies.
- Radioactive dust will also impact on health and welfare and other issues related to health e.g. air quality inside housing.
- The intersectionality of the nuclear struggle with others struggles. R1 trillion going to nuclear whereas no money for students’ fees.
- The angora goats industry has international implications if nuclear industry contamination takes place.
- Tourism industry will also be destroyed by mining, as well as heritage sites. Small towns’ economies will be destroyed by nuclear.
- Livestock in Karoo sold to urban areas, if contaminated, will affect food security and health in urban and rural areas.
- That parliament has promised public hearings into the nuclear deal since 2014 without acting on these promises. We also note with concern that the process to date while being lacking in transparency is dominated by so-called experts who have vested interests in the nuclear deal going forward.
- Original agreements that were signed with various countries are not freely available.
- That those benefiting from the nuclear deals are kept secret.
- The culture of secrecy is encouraged, with attempts to keep parliamentary meetings secret.
- All scientific, economic and financial evidence points to this nuclear deal as one we cannot afford, we don’t need and has nothing to do with the energy security of the country or the needs of our people while renewable energy (solar, wind and others) is significantly cheaper, both now and in the long term.
- The transport of nuclear waste has insufficient security.
- The increase of occurrence of cancer in communities near nuclear facilities – impact of nuclear contamination continues for thousands of years.
- Contamination of water, including groundwater near Vaalputs, has associated impacts on food. This also holds for areas where uranium mining took place, for example in the Karoo. Here just four mining companies dominate discussions and no public consultations have taken place.
- That the Energy Portfolio Committee members appear unfamiliar with issues around nuclear, job creation and the environment.
- We note that those of us who attended the meeting in parliament did so at the last minute given that originally the meeting was closed. We strongly assert that we do not seek to be gatekeepers for the public when we sit in such events in parliament. Meanwhile people have not been consulted.
- Farm workers could end up in squatter camps due to evictions from mining companies who are buying farms for uranium mining.
- Promises of jobs will not materialize – we don’t want to repeat the arms deal. Jobs will primarily be for professionals not for ordinary workers.
- We note that jobs are being lost in the mining industry.
- Increase in nuclear facilities and mining will mean an increase in waste to places such as Vaalputs.
- That groundwater contamination and the effects of radiation on the environment and health are undermining our environmental right (section 24 of the constitution).
- There may be Land claims that exist on farms and part of the farming area includes waste sites.
- The drought we experience will continue due do climate change and our energy choices should be as least water dependent as possible
Do hereby demand:
- The implementation of the “Polluter Pays” principle. Those that create and dump waste should compensate the historically affected communities including creating alternative livelihoods.
- To ensure that meaningful public participation takes place in uranium mining affected communities.
- That parliament hold meaningful public hearings on the nuclear deal before any further commitments to nuclear are made.
- The monitoring of groundwater contamination around Vaalputs, Koeberg and Pelindaba, with immediate online publishing of all measurements.
- A long term health monitoring programme including radiation related health impacts near nuclear sites including Vaalputs, Koeberg and Pelindaba.
- All nuclear related agreements with any other country should be freely available to the public.
- Tender documents for nuclear and any signed contracts should be made available and put in the public domain.
- To know all the BBBEE shareholders – they should be out in the public. Nepotism should not be tolerated.
- That Kelvin Kemm who owns a nuclear consultancy should not be allowed to sit on NECSA as it is a conflict of interest.
- Increase investigation into storage and research into renewable energy advances, including wave and ocean energy. Include research into challenges around renewable energy such as impact of wind turbines on bats.
- That all nuclear related meetings should be kept open and transparent.
- To charge Government with the responsibility to implement the most cost effective, sustainable and safe energy choice which will benefit the majority of our people, and an approach that is in accordance with the Constitution and all other applicable legal requirements.
- To demand the lifting of any ceilings in renewables in a diverse energy mix and a commitment to increasing our clean energy options. This will have a greater multiplier effect on driving a just transition to decent jobs and transform our economy by creating inclusive entrepreneurial opportunities for all.
- Break the economic stranglehold of institutions that concentrate huge amount of money out of energy like the Russian nuclear deal and rather provide substance to families – for example, turn every roof of every home, school and faith institution into an energy generator and an income generator through a rooftop revolution.
- Investigate negative economic impacts such as contaminated meat. Demand independent research, for example the impacts on the meat and mohair industries.
- Existing research should be made public and accessible to all people.
- Law enforcement should ensure safety and environmental implementation with respect to any historical nuclear contamination.
- Government publishes its plans with costs on nuclear waste disposal.
- Explore the possibility that National Nuclear Regulator should become a chapter 9 institution. It should be as independent as possible from various vested interests. Download the full statement here.