Objections to the building of a nuclear power station at any site in South Africa must be based on proven threats to either health or the environment.
This was said in Parliament by Joe Mwase from the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) earlier this month.
Mwase said these are the only factors considered by the NNR when deciding whether to approve a nuclear power station application or not.
This statement has serious implications for the proposed construction of the Thyspunt nuclear power station. In the case of an evacuation, it would be totally impossible for all the residents of the greater St Francis Bay area to get out the danger zone in a quick and orderly manner.
There is after all, only one highway and one gravel road that would not handle all the traffic. And what about the people who do not have motor cars? Possibly they are expendable in the eyes of Eskom.
Should a strong westerly wind be blowing, residents of Jeffreys Bay would have a serious problem as well in the case of an evacuation. And if health is one of the only two criteria assessed by the NNR, a lot of attention must be paid to the proposed evacuation plan if the Thyspunt development is to be halted.
Environmentally the Chokka industry is laying solid facts of the table about the consequences the nuclear power station will have on it. The decimation of an R 500 million industry together with the loss of jobs is a grim reality facing the region. This alone should see Thyspunt ruled out as a potential site for the construction of a nuclear power station.
It is deeply concerning to realize that we cannot expect any protection from the NNR when it comes to the looming social disaster awaiting this area. Tens of thousands of people flocking into the small towns of St Francis Bay, Humansdorp and Jeffreys Bay will cause an already creaking infrastructure to its knees.
The resultant crime wave will be left to us as a community to handle because Eskom will wash their hands of this problem and it is not an issue that concerns the NNR or anybody else it seems.