Eskom tries to slip new nuclear plants past public comment

Nuclear power is a rather contentious issue at the best of time, so when a parastatal tries to slip plans for two brand new nuclear power stations past the public, it doesn’t go down well.

According to Outa, Eskom has rather sneakily tried to hide the fact that it has applied to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) for licenses for the construction of two nuclear facilities in the Eastern Cape and Western Cape, respectively.

Instead of posting the notices for public comment in the National Gazette, Eskom placed the notices in the Eastern Cape Gazette – where nobody would go looking for it.

To make matters worse Eskom has also shortened the deadline to under 30 days, where the law requires at least 30 days for public participation. The notice issued by Eskom was published on 8 August, but the submission of public comments closes on 29 August.

“Eskom applied for a site licence to develop a nuclear reactor/power plant at Thyspunt (near Jeffreys Bay) and at the existing Koeberg (Duynefontein) nuclear site. Public participation is an essential part of the legalisation process for this element of the Nuclear Build program,” Outa said in a media statement.

In the notice Eskom acknowledges that it has “made an application to the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) for a Nuclear Installation Site Licence for the Thyspunt site.” It also details that the proposed site will be “situated in the Eastern Cape between the towns of Humansdorp (north), St Francis Bay (east) and Oyster Bay (west).”

Outa stressed that it is hugely important for people to comment on the build, because if nobody does “it is deemed to constitute acceptance of the proposal”, and thus cannot easily be challenged legally at a later stage.

Outa has speculated as to the motives for the hidden notices.

“Outa believes that this covert move occurred because the players thought if the public did not notice, they could slip the gazette through unchallenged,” it said.

If you want to have your say on the matter, all written comments must be addressed to Mr Peter Bester: Special Nuclear Projects, National Nuclear Regulator, PO Box 7106, Centurion 0046. You can also email your comments to

Outa has also prepared a participation portal to make it easy for the public to submit comments on this Gazette.

[Image – CC by 2.0/Paul Scott]


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