EASTERN Cape residents must become more vigilant of the government trying to pass pro-nuclear legislation and push through the building of a multibillion-rand nuclear power plant at Thyspunt.
This was the view of Coalition Against Nuclear Energy (Cane) chairman Mike Kantey last night as he addressed Nelson Mandela Bay residents in a bid to enlighten them on the dangers of nuclear power.
An authority on the issue, Kantey has been at the forefront of a battle between residents of the resort towns of Cape St Francis, St Francis Bay and Oyster Bay and Eskom over the proposed facility. Thyspunt is 5km west of Cape St Francis. Addressing a group of concerned Eastern Cape citizens at the Bay’s Grand Hotel last night, Kantey discussed the consequences of a hypothetical meltdown at the proposed Thyspunt nuclear plant, similar to the meltdown experienced at Japan’s Fukushima plant last year.
"I’m just here to share important information. It’s not all available to the public, which is a problem of mine with this proposal, but I want to distribute it and make people aware of it.
"From here you all have to decide how you’re going to respond.”
He wanted to "conscientise and alert” community members, and to see the public awareness drive taken further in the form of future meetings.
Kantey agreed with concerns from Jeffreys Bay residents that information about the prevailing winds in the area had been misrepresented in various expert reports by Eskom. In the event of a nuclear meltdown at Thyspunt, the toxins released into the air could drift over St Francis and Jeffreys Bay "in minutes”.
The site, assessed and selected for its potential to house and sustain such a development, was first mooted during the late 1980s.
A rise in the sea temperature in the region in recent years was also significant, Kantey warned, as the sea water would be required to cool down nuclear reactors at the plant and needed to conform to specific temperature requirements.
Kantey also addressed the political nature of the proposed plant. "There are the German, Japanese, French, American companies dealing in these reactor units. They get into the business to make money, and a good way to do that is to bring other investors on board with a sale like this one and offer them kickbacks.
"I’m not afraid to say a situation like this has implications that bring the arms deal to mind.”
Eskom had also failed to give "simple answers” to residents’ concerns, he said.
"I just don’t understand why, in an open society like ours, it’s so hard to get a simple, accessible explanation for questions like, Why nuclear? Why here in Thyspunt? Who stands to benefit from the deal?
"We’re being denied information,” Kantey said.