Greenpeace has filed papers in the High Court in Pretoria to try and compel Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson to update the country’s nuclear liability regulations, it said on Friday.
The fact that the South African government was pushing ahead with controversial plans for new nuclear investment meant the country’s liability regime needed to be scrutinised carefully, the environmental organisation’s executive director in Africa, Michael O’Brien Onyeka, said in a statement.
“So that at a minimum, the maximum of amount protection is given to the citizens of this country.”
According to the National Nuclear Regulator Act 47 of 1999, the energy minister was responsible for determining the appropriate levels of financial security to be provided by the holders of nuclear licences in the country, O’Brien Onyeka said.
According to the regulations, the levels of nuclear liability should be updated every five years, he said.
“Shockingly, the levels of financial security for nuclear licence holders have not been amended, updated or revised in more than 10 years.
“This means there is no lawfully applicable determination for the levels of financial security as required by the act.”
He said the organisation’s decision to take Joemat-Pettersson to court was a reminder to government that South Africa was ill-prepared for nuclear investment.
“Greenpeace believes that new nuclear investments are not a solution to the current electricity crisis.”
He said these were a distraction from investment in renewable energy, which could take South Africa out of its current energy crisis sooner.
“It would take at least 15 years for any new nuclear project to deliver electricity to the grid, which is far too little, far too late and comes at far too high a price,” he said.
The energy department could not immediately be reached for comment. SAPA