The proposed nuclear power stations at Thyspunt and elsewhere along the South African coastline has forced South Africans to have an opinion about atomic energy.

Fukushima is still releasing radioactive steam.

Those for atomic energy are strongly in favour, while those who oppose it only have to refer to Fukushima as an example of why they are against nuclear energy.

It is hard to remain neutral in this debate, especially with the possibility of a nuclear power station being built in our back garden at Thyspunt.

Making an informed decision is also not easy as Eskom has rolled out the propoganda machine in an effort to convince residents of the Kouga that nuclear is safe. On the other hand, there has been the devastation in Japan where even the sewage is radioactive following a nuclear meltdown.

Is nuclear safe or is it extremely dangerous? This question and the debates emanating from it will rage on but another question that must be asked is this: Just how much will it cost to flick on a light switch or a stove if we go the nuclear route in South Africa?

Talk of Eskom paying a “labola” of billions of rand to upgrade our infrastructure is fine and well but someone still has to pay for it all.

And that “someone” will be the South African consumer.

Nuclear energy will make electricity in South Africa more expensive and the short term creation of jobs together with infrastructure upgrades is not a fair exchange going into the future.

Inequality exists in South Africa and every effort should be made in reducing the cost of living for all citizens in the country, not increasing it, which will happen if the path of atomic energy is taken.

It is heartening therefore when someone like Trevor Manuel, the former finance minister of South Africa, raises the question of whether nuclear energy is viable for South Africa or not.

“The financial cost, environmental safety, waste disposal and decommissioning costs have to be taken into account. South Africa needs a national debate on the future development and use of nuclear energy” said Manuel who is heading up the National Planning Commission (NPC).

The NPC is holding an online debate about nuclear energy and other issues facing South Africa and everyone can participate and have their say.

Register here and if you live in the Jeffreys Bay region, choose Cacadu as your Municipal area.

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