Thyspunt debate rages on

Hilton Thorpe

THE outburst against opponents to Thyspunt by the resident of the Kouga Black Chamber of commerce, John Bouwer, (OT, March 14) cannot go unchallenged.
His main points, as reported, were that most of the people who are opposing the development were well-off (white); that there is serious unemployment and poverty in the area; and that the nuclear programme would be of immense benefit to the local community.
Ignoring the blatant racism of the comments, and the silly and incorrect remarks about opponents of the proposal not bothering to attend information meetings, the real argument in Bouwer’s speech is that Thyspunt will create jobs for the poorest of the poor and opportunities for business people to make a quick buck.
On what basis does Bouwer make this assumption? Is he aware that, at this stage, no formal announcement has been made by either the government or Eskom as to which technology will be used, and which country/countries will be contracted to build and operate the plant? Until this is made clear, everything is speculation, and Eskom’s statements must be viewed as pure propaganda.
No-one is arguing about the need for job-creation in the area, or about the need for a power station in the Eastern Cape, and the Alliance is not even arguing against nuclear power, though Fukushima is causing some second thoughts.
Judging by the paucity of information released by the government, South Africa intends spending R300-billion to generate 20000Mw of nuclear power. This translates into R31000 per kilowatt. It has been reliably estimated that “Generation 111” technology, on which the whole costly EIA is based, will cost R46000 per kilowatt. The implication of this is either that the government has seriously underestimated the cost of Generation 111, or, more probably, that they have abandoned the idea of Generation 111, and will be using Generation 11, such as currently used at Koeberg. Thyspunt cannot meet the requirements for emergency planning for Generation 11, so if this is the case, the Thyspunt site will have to be abandoned.
Let us assume, however, that the requirements are manipulated by the authorities to enable Generation 11 to be built at Thyspunt. Then it is highly unlikely that western companies would agree to participate, and SA will be looking to China or Korea to construct and operate the plant.
If China is selected, as is quite possible, since they will probably be financing it, there is every chance that they will behave in the same way they have in other projects in Africa, importing the entire labour force and all supplies directly from China, with minimal economic benefit to the region, and no job creation.

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