Group wants quick start to nuclear project and access to jobs
A new Kouga business and community forum launched in Jeffreys Bay last night has called for the Thyspunt nuclear project to be speeded up and preference given to local people at all levels of the development.
Speaking at the launch function at Mentors Country Estate, Thyspunt Nuclear Development Forum (TNDF) chairman Phumzile Oliphant said the forum aimed to give residents the best shot at benefiting from the project.
“It is important we don’t become back benchers here. We can’t allow other people to take decisions on how and if we should benefit. Nothing for Kouga without Kouga.”
On the Department of Energy presentation in parliament on Tuesday of the draft integrated resource plan (IRP) and a base case scenario which pushes back the need for nuclear to 2037, Oliphant said he would be tasking a committee to arrange a meeting with the department to challenge this analysis.
The public consultations which must now follow before the IRP is finalised were also unacceptable, he said.
“We are opposed to be taken thousands of steps back. The department must cancel this consultation. We have had [environmental impact assessment] consultations already with [Eskom consultant] Arcus Gibb. This is derailment. It’s regression.”
Oliphant said the forum would be looking to facilitate independent as opposed to joint venture involvement by local people and especially bringing in young people as the project got under way.
Knox Msebenzi, managing director of the Nuclear Industrial Association of South Africa (Niasa) which is supporting the forum, said a nuclear reactor was simply a factory, “like a Simba Chips factory”.
Together with the plentiful direct jobs, indirect jobs would come from the secure supply of electricity Thyspunt would achieve, and the ensuing local and foreign investment this would encourage.
Touching on the draft integrated resource plan 2037 push-back scenario, he said: “Niasa is going to advocate for much, much sooner.”
Solar panels might be good to power lights for children to do their homework, but vigorous industrialisation was needed to develop South Africa and, for this, a stable electrical grid underpinned by a suite of energy sources with nuclear at centre stage was needed, he said.
Necsa representative Phumzile Tshelane took the audience through the envisaged nuclear build and listed jobs ranging from road building to laying sewage and electricity lines, the supply of food to the construction village and servicing the many requirements of the reactor and its staff.
Coega Development Corporation’s Meike Wetsch said at a conservative estimate of 35% local involvement in the project and two reactors built, R5.6-billion could be generated for the national economy, R1.9-billion of which would stay in the Eastern Cape.