The pitfalls of Thyspunt

The Thyspunt Alliance made a presentation to the Kouga Council yesterday and highlighted a number of flaws in the Impact Studies that prove that Thyspunt is an unsuitable site for the construction of a nuclear power plant.

The meeting was well attended by the DA Councillors with very few ANC Councillors bothering to pitch up.

Despite input from the community and other experts that the Eskom consultants are wrong with their assertion that the prevaling wind at Oyster Bay is NNW, Eskom blunders on with this incorrect information.

This has a dire consequence on the residents of the Kouga, particularly in St Francis Bay and Jeffreys Bay. Anyone who has lived in the area for some time will know that the “berg wind” is not the predominant wind here and that the South Westerly wind is actually the prevailing wind.

Should a nuclear meltdown occur at Thyspunt, like at Fukushima, and the prevailing wind is blowing, a plume of radiation will cover St Francis Bay and Jeffreys Bay within minutes, giving residents almost no time to escape. Yet, Eskom brushes over this risk by maintaining that the predominant wind will blow radiation out to sea, posing little or no risk in the event of a melt down.

The Kouga Council is responsible for the safety of the citizens of Kouga and the future Disaster Management Plan will have to reflect the actual increased risk and cannot be based on false information supplied by Eskom. There will also have to be a disaster management team on duty 24/7 should Thyspunt go ahead, with the residents of Kouga having to pick up the tab.

Infrastucture is another serious concern with the Eskom consultants brushing over the danger of flooding and the damage caused to access roads to Thyspunt. In fact the “experts” say that traffic flow is rarely halted on the R330 (St Francis access road). Yet the Thyspunt Alliance proved through pictures that the road has been damaged and closed numerous times since 1996 due to flooding. There is still a temporary bridge over the Sand River due to the bridge being washed away in floods last year.

How construction of the plant as well as the future movement of highly radioactive waste will take place in the likely event of future flooding is simply not answered in the Impact Studies. It is furthermore not clear who will pay for the upgrade of infrastructure, particularly roads in the Kouga, as Eskom’s core business is the production of power, not infrastructural upgrades. The Kouga Council cannot be misled by vague promises of assistance at a time when our infrastructure is already ageing and in danger of falling apart.

The Impact Studies make mention of an influx of migrant workers into the Kouga who will all be looking for jobs that simply will not materialise. Eskom will only be responsible for construction of workers villages and will not be upgrading the Kouga’s sewage infrastructure, water infrastructure or electrical infrastructure. Just where the Kouga Council will find the money to pay for all these upgrades remains a mystery, especially as there is already a serious housing and infrastructural backlog in the area.

The increase in crime that will take place is not reflected in the South African Police’s long term planning as they have not been consulted in this regard. House robberies are already on the verge of spiralling put of control in some towns of the Kouga. Just what effect another 10 000 or more unemployed people will have on the crime rate is too scary to contemplate yet it is a reality Kouga residents might have to live with, should the nuclear power plant be built.

While the Impact Studies maintained that there were no fatal flaws, significant uncertainties were identified by the specialists particularly in Groundwater Report and the Dune Specialist Reports. Both of these specialists gave testimony to the unsuitability of the site, and then proceeded to state that there were no fatal flaws.

It is apparant that the study done on the construction of a heavy duty road though a moving dune field at Thyspunt was only a feasabilty study and not an Impact Study. This means the expert was asked if it was possible to build a road through the dunes but not asked what the impact of building such a road would be.

There are further concerns that have been raised by the community and the release of the 3rd draft Impact Studies is now being awaited by residents to see whether these concerns have been addressed.

It is becoming more and more obvious that if the Imapct Studies remain flawed, the entire process will be challenged in court by the residents of Kouga who will not be bullied into submission and will rely on the South African constitution to protect their rights as well as the rights of future generations.

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