Ditch nuclear, Greenpeace urges SA

2011-03-30 11:34

Johannesburg - Global lobby group Greenpeace on Wednesday again urged the government to abandon plans to build six new nuclear power stations, saying South Africa should instead focus on renewable energy sources.

"It should be increasing its clean energy ambitions - the only way to create a sustainable future the country so clearly needs," Greenpeace said.

SA's latest energy plan which was recently approved by the cabinet, the integrated resource plan 2 (IRP2), provides for 9 600 MW of nuclear power, two new coal-fired power stations and renewable energy as part of the mix.

Greenpeace said clean energy would only be a fifth of the supply by 2030.

"Doubling this ambition would mean a huge increase in the potential for job creation, and the growth of local renewable energy industries," it said.

It describes the inclusion of new nuclear power stations as "absurd, especially in the light of the nuclear impacts being felt by the Japanese".

"The IRP itself admits that higher nuclear costs could increase the price of electricity - nuclear energy investments will mean increased financial and safety risks for South Africans," said Greenpeace Africa climate campaigner Melita Steele.

She said SA should be more ambitious and invest in energy efficiency and renewable energy, and reduce the need for coal-fired power stations like Kusile.

  • KPdG - 2011-03-30 11:49

    Verstaan hierdie mense nie dat kernkrag veiliger, beter en goedkoper is as ander kragbronne nie?

      HighVoltage - 2011-03-30 12:59

      No KPdG, it does not seem that they understand anything. They are like a broken record, repeating their same old silly stories over and over.

      Kevin Mason - 2011-03-30 13:42

      No, they refuse to even try to understand. They are comparing 50 year old Japanese plants vs future Hi-tech plants, it makes about as much sense as being scared to go to Hawaii, because you might fall off the edge of the world. We have learnt a few things since that was considered a real risk...

      Twa Quus - 2011-03-30 14:11

      is nuclear really cheaper? it seems that it actually costs a lot more than what people think, you will find various articles around that explains exactly why. for example:,8599,2059453,00.html

  • Blougroen - 2011-03-30 11:56

    Yes - why would you go nuclear if clean energy is both feasible and attainable - it may mean we have to roll with coal for a while but if that could be aggresively cleaned up it could be a step towards a future clean energy South Africa. Take your vote to the party that promises clean energy !

      Oryx_ZA - 2011-03-30 12:29

      because green energy is not feasible and panels and wind farms are expensive and not close to efficient...i concede that improvements are been made...but we are not there yet....

      Farab - 2011-03-30 12:49

      feasible and attainable, maybe, but not affordable. you, like a lot of others, will be the first to complain about a 3 fold increase on your energy bills. anyway, tell me of a clean energy that can provide enough base load. 'base load' is the constant high output supply which is needed to provide a large proportion of daily electricity demand, so can't be interrupted (like when the wind stops blowing or the sun stops shining)

      modefan - 2011-03-30 12:52

      Did you read what you've typed? 'roll with caol for now'? Thats like saying we must suffer now so that later can be better. If you want to make that sacrifice, you should do it alone, don't put others in harms way

      Darter - 2011-03-30 13:37

      And how exactly are you going to power a 40MW furnace or smelter on solar or wind power? Do tree-huggers actually sit down and do calculations before making such statements?

      Manningi - 2011-03-30 13:41

      Fully support your comment

      pop101 - 2011-03-30 21:42

      Please explain aggressively clean up coal (pollution I guess). I think you are working for a solar company and therefor have hidden agendas, because boet, nobody can be this stupid.

  • brok3news - 2011-03-30 11:56

    Nuclear or Coal? Choose one you hippies.

  • Fat Rucker - 2011-03-30 12:07

    Jump in a ditch, SA urges Greenpeace...

  • lacisnesnon - 2011-03-30 12:09

    Then don't build anything within a 20km radius of the nuclear power plants...

  • shmangle - 2011-03-30 12:16

    Screw greenpeace, bunch of tree-hugging bunny-lovers.

      ange - 2011-03-30 12:31

      We will hug as many trees and bunnies as we wish. Stop destroying our planet with your rapacious greed.

      Irené - 2011-03-30 12:36

      oh shmangle- do you feel better about yourself now?? what exactly is wrong with being a bunny and nature loving person? huh? I guess you are a fat and greasy KFC eating numbskull. Greenpeace makes a very valid point- we should be careful of nuclear power plants. But people's general attitude towards groups like Greenpeace says alot about their ability to comprehend things way bigger than them. A nuclear disaster is very very dangerous, and considering increased tectonic activity on earth- we should not count our chickens. One accident and we could all be screwed. Do you idiots not understand that radioactivity stays in the soil and water for very long, and will affect all living things around it. Im not saying we should opt for coal instead- lets lay down foundations for sustainable energy- south africa has enough sun and wind to power a great deal of the country. Please people stop[ being sheep to the big companies and think for yourselves- nuclear is dangerous- sure it seems safe and highly effective, but you seem to be forgetting that everything has a trade off- and the bigger the benefits, the bigger the risks- its common sense

      Pacaltsdorp - 2011-03-30 14:35

      @Irene Common sense is not common Irene! You should know that. We are living in an era where economics plays a crucial part of life. The technology & methods used in creating Fukushima are outdated & belong in the museum now. The so call "clean energy" is a fallacy & is the next big money spinner. Peoples needs will always be exploited to generate a profit. I know clean energy is the way forward but honestly speaking, there is no place for such a concept in the modern society without serious repercussions.

      Juggernaut - 2011-03-30 16:09

      ange. What greed are you talking about?

      Oryx_ZA - 2011-03-30 16:51

      Ange if you are so disgusted by our greed i suggest that you turn your geyser, TV, Computer, internet and fridge off for good. Those are all "luxuries" that you can live out with. Your little comment about destroying the planet was most likely powered by coal... I live in a world of practicalities. If you really want to make a difference, go up to every pregnant mother or any person who want children and lecture them about how they are actively killing the planet. Overpopulation is the real inconvenient truth...only difference is, there is no warm fuzzy feel good solution.

      ange - 2011-03-30 17:07

      @ juggernaut: I am talking about the greed of the capitalist society in which we live, which constantly demands more and more gimmicks and gadgets, all dependant on electricty to operate, while being totally unnecessary. The greed of selfish people who install central heating and air-conditioning in a country where all you need to keep warm is a decent blanket or jacket. The greed of one of my neighbours who has a permanent artificial waterfall outside his house, not caring how much power and water he is wasting.

      Nasdaq7 - 2011-03-30 18:39

      Ange what have you done for the planet?

      pop101 - 2011-03-30 22:00

      Irene, I remember you. You are hippie with the sarong, dread locks and jesus tekkies. Anyway, he can't be a fat and greasy KFC eating numb skull too, you already said that's me. Shouldn't we be more worried about the increased tectonic activity than the nuclear plants? I mean, that may well be the reason the ice caps are melting and the seasons changing. Do you hippies not understand that without power you will freeze/burn (not sure what to believe anymore) to death, should climate change escalate. Hey, the foundations for sustainable energy has been laid down, but nobody wants to invest into something with no returns. Don't think because the herd (sheep) are going one way, and you are lost, we have to turn around because you say so. Yes, nuclear is dangerous, but no more than wind energy for example. Total deaths directly related to Chernobyl accident are something 60 (including cancer). Caithness Windfarm: - 922 accidents and 67 deaths up to 2010. And because they are so sustainable, more deaths and accidents to come. Yes, they sure are safe and clean those wind farms...common sense.

      pop101 - 2011-03-30 22:03

      Good gawd, we have a communist hippie. They morph. Hi ange, I know somebody that will gladly come and switch off your electricity....since you can live without it. Give me a buzz, if you are interested.

      BurNinGZA - 2011-03-31 13:17

      Thank you Irene... Your stupid comments about fat and greasy KFC just got you another few chickens slaughtered for my benefit.

      Irené - 2011-03-31 14:35

      @ BurningZA Hmm nyum nyum- I hope you enjoy the colon cancer those tortured and hormone fed deformed chickens will give you. They will have their revenge- one day. You and Pop are the same- pragmatic- anything can and should be done as long as it is for the 'advancement' of humans- but you guys dont think of the down side to your pragmatic views, and the long term effects of your beliefs. Yeah- nuclear plants are fast efficient options to create energy- yet the downside are way more risky than any other form of energy production. @POP- what so there can only be one wheezing greasy blob indulging in disgusting foods? You are one of many- but just because you guys are a majority to us healthy nature loving 'hippies' does not make you right and us wrong- We work hard at being good citizens, instead of blindly consuming crap till the end of time- whats so wrong with this? We cant change the movement of the tectonic plates- yet we can change our consumer habits- its a FACT we have raped the environment and polluted most of our waterways-and I firmly believe any person who disagrees or wants to point fingers at us who are trying to improve the world- for everyone- is a narcissistic bigoted egotistical waste of air. Oh and you are also fogetting that Chernobyll is today and will probably always be a desolated poisoned piece of land- that is man's doing- not tectonic plates. Radiation seeping from Fukushima is also not the plates fault- but man- for building the reastor

      ange - 2011-03-31 15:02

      @pop100: I am not a commie; I am a freedom loving bunny and tree hugger. I see you are offering to switch off my lights; could it be that you are flirting with me, you capitalist, nuclear-loving, planet-destroying member of the establishment? As an ex-flower child I am probably old enough to be your mother...

  • resiststance - 2011-03-30 12:23

    We should be pursuing both nuclear and "renewable energy sources" and ditching coal.

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-03-30 16:16

      Ahh, but then you get greenpeace jumping up and down and yelling "WHAT ABOUT JAPAN!" Because clearly building new plants with enhanced safety features carries exactly the same risk as a 30 year old plant with outdated tech near an active earthquake zone. Bearing this in mind, i would NOT want a BEE company anywhere NEAR a nuke plant construction site. Even tied up.

  • Vaal Donkie - 2011-03-30 12:26

    Greenpeace are terrorists.

  • aajvr - 2011-03-30 12:28

    What is Greenpeace smoking? WEED? Renewable energy like solar cost 10+ times more than nuclear per MWH and you need a lot more of it to generate the same output. The Japan reactors were old outdated designs, newer reactors offer a lot more safety - and besides - we are nowhere near a fault line. Nuclear is still our best and only real option. Build them in the Karoo with water from Gariep, at least if something goes wrong we only mess up a few sheep.

  • Rob Gunning - 2011-03-30 12:33

    I agree with Greanpeace 100%, clean energy is the way forward. It is a large initial investment and will take us a few years to see the benefits but the long term rewards would be worth every cent.

      Juggernaut - 2011-03-30 16:13

      Rob you are just blowing in the wind. Reality check: all forms of economically viable power generation WILL be used. This includes coal, nuclear and solar/wind. If something else comes along that will be used too if viable. Trying to stop one or another because of some feeling in your water is just plain immature.

  • Han Solo - 2011-03-30 12:36

    Build the nuclear plants. Greenpeace are being naive.

  • Nasdaq7 - 2011-03-30 12:37

    We have so much uranium. Should we ditch that too? Export all our coal for money. Just move back to candles.

  • think_str8 - 2011-03-30 12:50

    This is an emotional issue, but people should think with their heads! We need electricity, and every year we need more of it. Our civilization is built around it. We only have three reliable sources: burn fossil fuels (oil, coal, gas), hydro and nuclear. We are messing up our atmosphere with the first, hydro is a very small component and cannot be expanded significantly, which leaves nuclear. Every single day millions of people have hot water, lights, a functioning infrastructure because their electricity comes from nuclear generators. Nuclear is far cleaner than burning fossil fuels. Yes, there is a risk. There is also a risk that you will die when you board the next plane, but the benefits outweigh the risks. What is happening at Japan is not the fault of nuclear technology, but a freak occurence (like a plane crash). We will learn from this and will make the technology even better, but to demand an end to nuclear is to throw the preverbial child out with the bath water. All so called sustainable energy sources are in their infancy and it will be many decades before these will be at a level where they can reliably replace nuclear. We need to keep on working to get there, but we need nuclear if we want to continue our way of living until then.

      Fred - 2011-03-30 15:30

      Solar, wind, water and tidal energy have been around for quite sometime now, 30-40 years and still they cannot provide a steady enough volume of power to support more than half of any countries power needs, they are just not efficient enough.

  • scipio - 2011-03-30 12:53

    Nuclear Power Plants are of the safest kind of power plants. What happened in Japan, stays in Japan. The chances of something going wrong at a Nuclear power plant is very slim. Sure it's pretty insane when something goes wrong, but Nuclear energy FTW okay? Kthanxbai

  • Dudley Wood - 2011-03-30 12:54

    We can barely afford to pay for the 3 new coal fired power plants and Wind/solar are many times more expensive than coal. Nuclear being of a similar cost with almost no environmental repercussions (as long as it's run with high safety standards) is the obvious answer. Greenpeace normally take these things too far!

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-03-30 20:18

      As long as it's run with high safety standards and no earthquakes/tsunamies take place.

  • TimStorm - 2011-03-30 12:56

    If part of Melita Steele's argument is that: "The IRP itself admits that higher nuclear costs could increase the price of electricity - nuclear energy investments will mean increased financial and safety risks for South Africans," does he have any idea that solar and wind energy come at a very similar if not higher risk and includes the increased economic risk of poor quality base-load energy!

  • Wes - 2011-03-30 13:05

    Dump Nuclear for WHAT? You eco-fascists.

  • Andrew Wilson - 2011-03-30 13:31

    Sigh, Yes lets waste billions on inefficient green technology. GreenPeace just dont have a clue. Anyone vaguely intelligent or well read would understand that nuclear energy is a necessity, not an option. There is NO alternate even remotely viable to fill the power void in the world, why should SA waste money chasing tree hugging fantasies? Green Peace, go and start a commune somewhere and live however you like, just dont try and force hippy claptrap on everyone else. Blougrown, clean energy is far from Feasable, or attainable and far too expensive at the moment, we cant power the world on green thoughts or rhetoric. Until we can we need nuclear power.

  • Knorpantoffel - 2011-03-30 13:33

    SA het krag nodig, en baie! Kernkrag is die skoonste en kragtigste oplossing, mits daar nie n ongeluk is nie. So bou dit ver van mense af en maak seker dat daar nie ongeluke is nie. SA is nie n groot risiko wat aardbewings aan betref nie!

  • Freelance Writer - 2011-03-30 13:34

    In light of what has happened in Japan, South Africa should not build 40 year old nuclear power stations. Now hop back into your Priuses and stop telling us how to live our lives.

  • Freelance Writer - 2011-03-30 13:37

    By the way, would this be the same Greenpeace that is pushing for a worldwide ban on DDT use despite the fact that it is the cheapest and most effective method of fighting malaria in Africa? Thought so.

      Irené - 2011-03-30 15:20

      @ freelance writer You obviously have no knowledge of the cumulative impact of DDt on the environment- please stick to freelancing for Heat or People magazine or whatever you do. It is true- DDT is cheap and effective at killing mosquitos- but it also poisons entire ecosystems, and is responsible for a long list of chronic ailments among humans. You are quick to insult Greenpeace, but what about the hundreds of countries who have unanimously decided to ban DDT?? Are they also all crackpots like GreenPeace?? So what exactly is your point?? You sound like a real self entitled narcissist- whats wrong with people trying to better the world around them? Its your type of mentality that has landed humanity in the s*** it is today. Selfrighteous greedy people who only think of themselves and not the world they live in.

      ange - 2011-03-30 16:26

      @ Irené: LOL, he definitely freelances for Heat or maybe for You/Huisgenoot. Cannot agree more about the dangers of DDT. (Speaking as someone who has had malaria, I'd rather spend ten days on a quinine drip than be poisoned by DDT.) @freelance: do you know that radioactive crap at 3355 times the acceptable level is flowing into the Pacific Ocean near Fukushima? Do you have any idea what this is doing to the marine life? And it can only get worse...

      pop101 - 2011-03-30 22:11

      Nope, it's the Greenpeace that deny hunger-stricken populations in developing countries from benefiting from genetically modified foods. You see, they ban these products (misleading poor governments) and then sell their own brand of organic foods to these governments and hungry people making billions.

  • Manningi - 2011-03-30 13:39

    Renewable energy is a fallacy.

      Martin du Plessis - 2011-03-30 20:21

      Up untill someone invents the graviton-repression reactor and we can generate massive amounts of power straight from the earths gravity well

  • Bundy - 2011-03-30 13:43

    Its all very well saying stop nuclear enery but give us a realistic option when you tell us this. clean energy technology is not going to meet our needs an in fact its a long way off. You dont want us to use oil or coal. you dont want us to get the gas out of the Karoo. If you make a statement please back it up with a realistic alternative.

  • Pacaltsdorp - 2011-03-30 13:58

    Fukushima is ancient. The technology used is worlds apart from what is currently available. Nuclear is the best modern day & sustainable solution.

      Slypsteen - 2011-03-30 15:00

      All Nuclear plants built are "ancient" all components used in the building of nuclear plants require a qualification cycle depending on which plant they are used of up ten years, that is why there is no digital electronics in Koeberg only analogue components. That makes a safe bet given the number built and their safety record, you will always have the ranting of the lunatic fringe, get used to it SA will have 19 nuclear plants by 2032. Wits has a special Nuclear Engineering degree to train the operators already.

  • Fred - 2011-03-30 15:20

    Yesterday an article read that SA must ditch coal, so we ditch nuclear ( clean energy.) and coal ( cheap energy.) and what does SA have left, nothing, back to the dark age, please greenpeace don't show your stupidity nor your ignorance of the SA energy crises.

  • FatPenguin - 2011-03-30 15:31

    Glad to see a majority of the people commenting here see the benefits of nuclear while not exaggerating the risks. Gives me a little hope; I was expecting rampant emotional arguments instead of the dismissal greenpeace deserves. Could the whole japan thing actually have increased the average persons knowledge of nuclear energy?

  • Pronuke - 2011-03-30 16:05

    I have been in the nuclear industry for many years and work directly on the design of nuclear plants (third generation). I am glad to see so many rational comments to this article and in favor of nuclear, compared to the overly emotional reactions of Greenpeace. I also love nature and sure, let's increase the use of renewable if we can, but stop thinking that nuclear is all risk and other energies are risk free. The amount of overdesign that goes into a nuclear plant is incredible, not even planes have so many backup and safety systems. There are many layers of defense in a nuclear plant. In addition, depending on the design you choose, the latest designs are already taking into account the potential of a complete loss of cooling systems as seems to have happened at Fukushima. Yes, a serious accident can still happen, but in the worst of worst, unlikely to the extent of being "impossible", event, the accident will be contained without risk to the public. In all the years of nuclear, only Three Mile Island (no public impact) and now Fukushima can be counted as real accidents. Chernobyl should not even be mentioned, it is like comparing a modern day Boeing with the Hindenburg, the designs are so different. Nothing can ever have 0% risk, but as far as risk goes, nuclear is about as low as anything can ever get.

      Jonas_Barbar - 2011-04-01 06:31

      @pronuke: interesting comments pro. I am a 'greenie' but after having done extensive research into alternative energy I have also come to the conclusion that, from a political point of view at least, nuclear has to be the bridging step towards the next generation of power supply. And I'm not sure what it is going to be -- hydrogen maybe? How far are we off from fusion?

      Jonas_Barbar - 2011-04-01 06:35

      @pronuke: interesting comments pro. I am a 'greenie' but after having done extensive research into alternative energy I have also come to the conclusion that, from a political point of view at least, nuclear has to be the bridging step towards the next generation of power supply. And I'm not sure what it is going to be -- hydrogen maybe? How far are we off from fusion?

  • Juggernaut - 2011-03-30 16:07

    Blather blather blather who pays sweetheart?

  • Dr Kay-gee (PhD in Nuc Eng) - 2011-03-30 16:10

    lol, It would probably take a space that is equivalent to a half of our country just to get as much power as we get from our combined nuclear and coal plants from solar panels including wind mills sticking out of the solar farm. sacrifing 25km radious around nuclear power plant is not such a big deal now is it? I cant even imagine how much we would pollute our invironment that you dearly love if we had to mine nickel and other exotic metals that would be used to build batteries to store that power. I know that pump storage could be used but photovoltaic cell energy has to be stored in a battery first. Green peace quit dreaming!! Nuclear is the least cleanest way you gonna get electricity

      Dr Kay-gee (PhD in Nuc Eng) - 2011-03-30 16:34

      I meant to say most cleanest

      ange - 2011-03-30 16:49

      PhD, huh? And you talk about most cleanest and least cleanest? Clean up your grammar if you want to pretend to have an education.

      Dr Kay-gee (PhD in Nuc Eng) - 2011-03-30 17:29

      Most clean... but you do get my point don't you?

      Andrew Wilson - 2011-03-31 07:53

      Shame ange, cant fault the argument so you attack his grammar? Are you that transparent?

      barkers - 2011-03-31 10:09

      NOPE. Ange is correct

      barkers - 2011-03-31 10:19

      strange that there is no record of you on google, Dr. Kay-gee PhD Nuclear Engineering.

      Andrew Wilson - 2011-04-01 08:52

      Wow, thats the best you guys can come up with? One person comments so you try and take them down, look at the issue, not the people commenting on it. The world needs nuclear power, the world is powered by nuclear power. You wouldnt be alive without nuclear power indirectly. i will re-iterate for you, there is no viable alternative, until there is, we need nuclear power. i am all for green solutions, but none could currently make a signifcant enough contribution...

      Will2.0 - 2011-05-16 16:54

      Funny how we try to convince people on the comments section of a news site of our authority on a subject. Like anyone here is going to be the decision maker or any decision maker on here is going to be swayed by what he reads here. Sure, you have a PhD. Sure, I care. Welcome to the age of popular megalomania!

  • Flamewulf - 2011-03-31 07:36

    Dream on, Greenpeace.

  • Biff - 2011-10-07 23:50

    All that is needed is to remove the millions of illegal electricity connections all over the country pulling mega amps out of the grid and we will have enough power without more nuclear power stations. Eskom techs are threatened with death when they try to disconnect them and they get no police backup.

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