The truth about nu­clear power in SA

Anti-nu­clear ac­tivists ex­plain why peo­ple are re­sist­ing nu­clear power around the world


TWO in­ter­na­tional anti-nu­clear ac­tivists yes­ter­day vis­ited Dur­ban to ed­u­cate the com­mu­nity on the harm­ful ef­fects of nu­clear en­ergy. They high­lighted why South Africans must con­tinue to op­pose its pro­lif­er­a­tion in our coun­try.

Rus­sian ac­tivist Vladimir Slivyak and Amer­i­can ac­tivist Chris Wil­liams claim African coun­tries are “easy tar­gets” for nu­clear re­ac­tor com­pa­nies who have wanted to sell the idea of nu­clear en­ergy, as more Western coun­tries op­pose it.

Slivyak, a mem­ber of the Rus­sian en­vi­ron­men­tal or­gan­i­sa­tion Ecode­fense, has been an en­vi­ron­men­tal and en­ergy ac­tivist since 1989. Wil­liams, a long time sus­tain­able en­ergy pol­icy ac­tivist, is cur­rently the Ver­mont USA or­gan­iser for the Cit­i­zens Aware­ness Net­work.

These ac­tivists have al­ready been to Joburg and Port Elizabeth where they vis­ited ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties near a pro­posed nu­clear site to ed­u­cate them about what nu­clear en­ergy was and what it would mean for them if it were in­tro­duced.

In Dur­ban yes­ter­day, Slivyak and Wil­liams spoke at an event at St Paul’s Church. Re­cently Earth­life Africa Jo­han­nes­burg and the South­ern African Faith Com­mu­ni­ties’ En­vi­ron­ment In­sti­tute chal­lenged the govern­ment’s nu­clear deals with Rus­sia, the US and South Korea.

In April, judg­ment was de­liv­ered in the Cape Town High Court and these deals were set aside and de­clared un­law­ful and un­con­sti­tu­tional. In a press brief­ing yes­ter­day morn­ing Slivyak and Wil­liams em­pha­sised the need for South Africa to dis­tance it­self from nu­clear en­ergy and said re­new­able en­ergy was the way of the fu­ture.

“South Africa has enough sun as well as wind. There are other al­ter­na­tives like so­lar and wind en­ergy which is now be­com­ing the way of the fu­ture. When these in­ter­na­tional nu­clear com­pa­nies try to sell you the idea of nu­clear en­ergy, they don’t tell you that in the long run, it’s ac­tu­ally go­ing to cost you a whole lot more than you ex­pect,” said Wil­liams.

He said the fi­nan­cial mar­kets in­ter­na­tion­ally were also mov­ing away from nu­clear en­ergy to re­new­able en­ergy be­cause it was cost ef­fec­tive and the safer al­ter­na­tive.

“In Ger­many, they’ve al­ready taken a de­ci­sion to close 23 nu­clear re­ac­tor plants in the next five to six years. They’ve made a com­mit­ment to source all their power through sus­tain­able en­ergy and other coun­tries should fol­low in this path. We are here to spread the word in terms of what’s hap­pen­ing on the in­ter­na­tional front and coun­tries can make in­formed de­ci­sions based on this,” said Slivyak.

Earth­life Africa Dur­ban, who hosted the anti-nu­clear ac­tivists, said it was con­cerned that the South African govern­ment still planned to pur­sue the nu­clear deal.

“It is at the heart of the state cap­ture and the cab­i­net reshuf­fle. If it goes ahead the R1 tril­lion deal will bank­rupt the coun­try. It is a risky and dan­ger­ous source of power as wit­nessed by the many nu­clear dis­as­ters, most no­tably Fukushima in Ja­pan”.

“Earth­life Africa Dur­ban and the South Dur­ban Com­mu­nity En­vi­ron­men­tal Al­liance sup­ports a re­new­able en­ergy fu­ture and an end to coal and nu­clear power sta­tions. We call on the peo­ple of South Africa to op­pose the govern­ment’s shady nu­clear deals and to sup­port a safe, clean and green fu­ture with re­new­able en­ergy,” said Earth­life Dur­ban spokes­woman, Alice Thomp­son.

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