Record of decision on Thyspunt soon

Dr Kelvin Kemm
Dr Kelvin Kemm

A RECORD of decision on the suitability of Thyspunt near St Francis Bay as the site for South Africa’s new nuclear power plant is expected to be signed within the next two to three months.

This is according to Dr Kelvin Kemm, chief executive of Nuclear Africa, the government-backed nuclear project management company tasked with promoting the country’s nuclear ambitions.

Kemm was speaking on the sidelines of a Nuclear Africa and Eskom nuclear summit at the St Francis Links Golf Estate yesterday where Nuclear Africa, Eskom and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) made presentations and a case for both nuclear energy and Thyspunt as an ideal site.

In addition to the benefits the proposed nuclear plant would bring, Nuclear Africa and Necsa pressed home the advantages of a national nuclear industry flowing from the establishment of a new nuclear plant.

Kemm, who made it clear he believed Thyspunt was an ideal location for a nuclear power station, said the record of decision on its suitability as a site should be signed within the next two to three months.

“This does not mean that it is a decision around nuclear [energy] or what kind of nuclear plant will be established,” he said, although the record of decision would pave the way for a nuclear plant to be established there.

Having made references to President Jacob Zuma’s state of the nation address in which the president said a new nuclear plant would be operating by 2023, Kemm said that meant there would be just eight years left to finalise the site and construct the power station and all its accompanying infrastructure.

“This means the whole process in terms of finalising the site . . . would need to have been completed by year-end,” he said.

Asked if he was involved in public participation and stakeholder-engagement exercises at either of the other two proposed sites for the plant, Kemm said he had not, but that he believed Thyspunt was the most suitable of the sites being considered.

The other sites are at Koeberg, which already hosts Africa’s only nuclear power station, and at Bantamsklip, near Cape Agulhas.

The summit was attended by Kouga Municipality officials, provincial government, a number of stakeholder groups including local residents’ associations and business groups, and media.

The proposal to establish the plant at Thyspunt has been welcomed by some communities seeking employment opportunities and investment in the region, but it has caused outrage in other communities and among environmental groups.

-Shaun Gillham

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