‘The nuclear path will compound centralisation and elitism, and necessitate importing skilled foreign labour’
IS SA about to multiply and repeat the R40bn arms-deal debacle that has haunted our politics for more than a decade? The government’s decision to invest more than R1-trillion in six nuclear reactors — the equivalent of 30 arms deals — risks being a disaster for our fraying governance as well as for the economy. The amounts of money involved in the nuclear deal are an obvious magnet for corruption; the security risks inherent in the technology offer a million more excuses for secrecy.
The nuclear decision is justified by the conventional wisdom that we need infrastructure-intensive economic development to meet “the needs of our people”, that economic development demands economic growth, and economic growth demands huge power stations. Some consider it to be a necessary low-carbon alternative: South Africans are mostly unaware of the technological revolution unfolding globally in the renewable energy sector.
Activists question the nuclear decision on the grounds of radiation and proliferation risks. They point out that no country has solved the problem of how to deal with high- level radioactive waste and that it is highly unlikely that a problem that has so far defeated the likes of the US and Japan will be solved by SA. Despite having had nearly 20 years since the end of apartheid to find a responsible solution for managing high-level waste, Eskom continues to stack it up in racks at Koeberg, just as was done — disastrously — at Fukushima. The National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute, unfunded, Continue reading