Editorials 29.4.2017 05:16 am

Too much money riding on nuclear build programme

Too much money riding on nuclear build programme

The deal had included a favourable tax regime for Russia and placed heavy financial obligations on South Africa.

There is just no telling what the half-life is likely to be from the nuclear fallout generated by the ruling handed down by Judge Lee Bozalek of the Western Cape High Court, that South Africa’s deal with Russia’s Rosatom to build nuclear reactors was unlawful, forcing South Africa to go back to the drawing board.

With the kind of money involved – an estimated R1 trillion – there can be little doubt that the pro-nuclear power lobby have had their drawing boards out for just such an eventuality.

In addition, the judge said any request for information to kickstart the procurement process was set aside, as was the cooperation pact.

The deal had included a favourable tax regime for Russia and placed heavy financial obligations on South Africa.

“Seen as a whole, the Russian IGA (intergovernmental agreement) stands well outside the category of a broad nuclear cooperation agreement and at the very least, sets the parties well on their way to a binding, exclusive agreement in relation to the procurement of new reactor plants from that particular country,” Bozalek said of a proposed deal between power utility Eskom and Russia’s Rosatom to build nuclear reactors.

While the South African Faith Communities Environment and Earthlife Africa, the two entities who brought the joint action to halt the nuclear programme, can claim a victory, this could prove to be of a pyrrhic nature. There is just too much money riding on the eventual result.

Despite this country having coal resources estimated at 30 billion tons and being home to 3.5% of the world’s coal resources, the much vaunted Medupi power station, a dry-cooled, coal-fired station, has had a number of teething problems – and sister facility Kusile is yet to come on stream.

There has been an almost indecent haste to fast-track the nuclear alternative.

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