November 13, 2017 / 5:00 PM / a month ago

Activists to appeal new South African nuclear plant decision

CAPE TOWN (Reuters) - Greenpeace Africa and other NGOs intend to appeal against South Africa’s decision to grant an environmental permit for a new 4,000 megawatt nuclear plant close to Cape Town, the activists said on Monday.

Last month South Africa’s department of environmental affairs granted authorization to state-owned power utility Eskom to build the new plant at Duynefontein, close to the continent’s only existing nuclear site Koeberg.

South Africa’s nuclear regulator said in October that an installation site license for the plant would likely be granted in June, despite the finance minister saying construction of a new plant was unaffordable in a stagnant economy facing further credit downgrades.

“If this project goes ahead, it will infringe the environmental rights of both present and future generations. This authorization can and must be challenged,” Penny-Jane Cooke, climate and energy campaigner for Greenpeace Africa, said in a statement.

South Africa’s nuclear plans are shrouded in controversy and uncertainty, with local activists and the media raising concerns about transparency and costs as well as safety and environmental risks at a time when Pretoria is trying to reduce the economy’s heavy reliance on coal power.

Nuclear reactor makers including Rosatom, South Korea’s Kepco, France’s EDF and Areva, Toshiba-owned Westinghouse and China’s CGN are eyeing the South African project, which could be worth tens of billions of dollars.

Reporting by Wendell Roelf; Editing by Ed Stoddard and David Evans

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