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Kemm: Court ruling didn't kill off SA’s nuclear plan

Apr 28 2017 17:30

Cape Town - The high court judgment on South Africa's nuclear build programme may be a setback, but certainly is not a derailment, according to South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) chairperson Dr Kelvin Kemm.

The Western Cape High Court ruled that certain of the government's decisions in respect of the procurement of nuclear new generation capacity, were unlawful and unconstitutional. It also set aside government's nuclear cooperation agreements with the US, Russia and South Korea.

READ: Court sets aside nuclear deals with Russia, other countries

In a statement issued on Friday, Necsa cautioned against misinterpreting the court's judgment

"[T]he response that this has killed off SA’s nuclear build programme is an over reaction and damaging to the country’s international reputation and commercial standing.

"The judgment is a setback but certainly not a derailment as many commentators are repeating. Caution and good sense should apply until all the implications are fully understood."

Necsa is still studying the details of the judgment of and will comment at length in due course.

According to Kemm, the court ruled on an administrative process. "The court has not ruled on the wisdom, or otherwise of nuclear power. A false impression has been created that this judgment is anti-nuclear. It is not and comment to that effect is premature and regrettable.”

READ: 'Justice is served', say applicants in nuclear court bid

The nuclear industry in South Africa, Necsa said, operates to the highest global business and ethical standards and applies world best practice to planning and operational procedures. It added that to suggest that those working within it adhere to anything less is at best inaccurate and a great disservice to a highly professional body of experts.

“There are many misunderstandings and false perceptions around nuclear and the public is often fed misinformation about the costs, benefits, safety and South Africa’s long-term energy requirements," Kemm reckoned.

He said one positive aspect of the ruling is that it presents the opportunity for the facts and truth to be fully aired and debated.

"The anti-nuke lobby has had the platform to themselves not least because the nuclear industry has been quiet. This will change. Necsa and the nuclear industry intend to step up efforts to put the facts before the court of public opinion and to present a balanced and evidenced based case for nuclear energy as the right energy option for South Africa."

READ: No secret nuclear deal, court ruling must be appealed

Kamm also rubbished the existence of a so-called "secret nuclear deal", adding that nuclear did all due diligence required correctly, Fin24 reported on Thursday.

Responding to this, Fin24 user Paul Pezarro wrote: "What part of 'secret' does Dr Kamm not understand? Of course he doesn't know of it because it is secret." He also brushed off talk of "due diligence" saying it is "nonsense".

Pezarro said Kamm also ignored the challenges of the country's nuclear power projects such as cost over-runs and delays.

"We, the people are not stupid. His patronising attitude only serves to strengthen our resolve to demand full disclosure, complete transparency and sober, reasoned assessment of the true facts, all of which are our right. He is not going to pull the wool over our eyes."

Read Fin24's top stories trending on Twitter:

nuclear deal  |  nuclear energy  |  sa economy
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