A Russian activist who blew the whistle on South Africa’s pending nuclear marriage with the former Soviet Union believes the deal is all about power; but not the type needed for the grid.
Vladimir Slivyak from the Russian environmental group EcoDefense, leaked the Russian Intergovernmental Framework agreement to South African environmental rights group Earthlife and they in turn unravelled the two countries’ cosy nuclear relationship.
Slivyak said the drive for nuclear power had less to do with energy and more to do with political and geopolitical power. “There is evidence that the cost of nuclear energy per megawatt is far more costly than renewable energy and the time to commission the plants can take up to 30 years in some cases while renewable plants take at most two years,” said Slivyak.
Speaking at a media conference in Durban on Saturday, he also lambasted Russia’s poor nuclear record, rampant corruption and maintained Russia’s weakening economy meant they lacked the financial muscle to finance nuclear build projects around the world.
Rosatom, Russia’s nuclear build company, claims to have the green light to build 27 reactors globally.
He said while there was risk in the nuclear plant, he said “no country in the world” has been able to “successfully” deal with nuclear waste and its environmental consequences.
“A nuclear deal makes the recipient country reliant on the provider for several decades, from servicings to fuel.
“Over 300 people in the past four years have been fired over allegations of corruption in the nuclear industry in Russia. We are worried that the corruption we have will continue in this country.”
Environmental group Groundwork’s David Hallowes said introducing nuclear into South Africa will “bankrupt the country”.
“We are building something we do not need. Nuclear projects also require secrecy, which is the perfect ground for corruption.”
Recently a manufacturing lobby group and Business Unity South Africa both come out and opposed the nuclear build programme, primarily based on the exorbitant cost and the environmental threat it could pose to future generations.