Thyspunt Alliance comments

Kemm’s nuclear arguments fatally flawed

A letter received from Thyspunt Alliance’s  Hilton Thorpe discusses flaws in Dr Kemm’s arguments

“The article in the August, 2017 edition of the Chronicle, which quotes Dr Kelvin Kemm at length, is typical. It is nothing more than propaganda – a disinformation exercise which deliberately disregards serious issues in relation to the nuclear process, and gives a totally erroneous impression.

Who is this Dr Kelvin Kemm?  He is a lobbyist denying climate change. Like so many lobbyists, he appears to be blind to any realities other than his own agenda. He has invested his professional and business career in nuclear technology, and is now using his lobbying skills in this direction. As nuclear adviser to the government, Chairman of NECSA and CEO of his own nuclear company, he has a fatal conflict of interest.

Kemm described the High Court ruling, which set aside every step taken so far, as “just a bump in the road, not even a pothole”.  This is tantamount to contempt of court. The entire nuclear programme has to start from scratch, legally, with full parliamentary and public participation.

The Russian agreement would have given Russia a virtual monopoly over all nuclear matters in South Africa for a minimum of 20 years, and an unspecified favourable tax regime. South Africa would have been fully responsible for any damage arising in consequence of any nuclear incident. The government was hoping to smuggle this through without reference to parliament. The judge ruled that the agreement was unconstitutional, to be reviewed and set aside.

Kemm suggests that the Record of Decision for the EIA is simply a matter of a Ministerial stroke of the  pen.  He ignores the fact that the EIA process is also subject to the law (in this case NEMA). The Final Environmental Report was riddled with fatal flaws, including lack of material information required. A favourable ROD at this stage would be inappropriate. There are a number of major processes to follow before the project can go ahead.

Eskom has already spent tens of millions of rands on a fatally flawed EIA, and on land purchases, prior to decisions by the DEA and NNR. Now they want to proceed with site preparation, at tax-payers’ expense, prior to authorization, and at risk.

Kemm may be a competent nuclear scientist – he has never shown the slightest interest in the merits or otherwise of Thyspunt as a nuclear site. His arguments should be treated with the skepticism they deserve.”

Nuclear Saga continues

The Nuclear Saga continues – Fact or creative public relations

With nuclear saga back in the news it seems there could be a fine line between what constitutes “fake news” and what is “real”. What is fake and what is real is often dependant on which side of the proverbial fence one sits and what those publishing the news want to achieve when publishing such news. The e-mail received late Sunday claiming the nuclear process is well on its way to becoming a reality is possibly the truth for those wishing it to be real but on the other hand those wishing Thyspunt not to progress may consider it “fake” particularly as neither Eskom nor the energy ministry has issued supporting comment.

Having only read the news release for the first time so late on a Sunday it allowed little more than a cursory look to see if either Eskom or the ministry had published similar insight. The article in question certainly seemed credible and that it had been placed into the public domain by a seemingly official agency surely meant it had government blessing. The quick search of relevant web sites and news portals proved fruitless so one must question as to why the news of the nuclear go ahead has been put into public domain with no word of support from Eskom or the ministry. Until confirmation is published either by Eskom or the energy ministry we remain no closer to what really is happening. One question that should be asked however is what authority Dr Kemm has to make such far reaching claims to say nothing of his right to commit, in print, billions of state funds to the nuclear process (“the Thyspunt site development budget is R25-30-billion and all that is left with respect to the Thyspunt site is the Record of Decision (ROD) sign-off by the Minister of Environment Affairs”).

St Francis Today was possibly a little “naughty” in publishing without delving deeper into the facts but given the importance of the article to St Francis residents, we felt it important that readers were informed of the news should they not have seen it in alternative publications. Our haste was also motivated by the fact as we will be unable to publish SFT for a few weeks from Friday so felt it necessary to get the ball rolling in informing our readers.  Happily for us (SFT) we achieved exactly what we intended and have received comment that questions whether claims made in the said article are in fact a reality or simply the view of those who may have a vested interest in seeing nuclear go ahead.

Gary Koekemoer of NoPENuke, a member of the Thyspunt Alliance makes some very interesting points that certainly question Dr Kemms claims in his exclusive interview.

Gary’s response is published below.

The United States of America is the world leader in nuclear energy with ninety-nine reactors currently on-line. On the 31 July 2017, two electricity utilities announced, , that they were abandoning the building of their two nuclear reactors (at the V.C. Summer nuclear project in South Carolina) after spending $9 Billion and being close to 40% complete. This was two of the four nuclear builds currently underway in the USA and a direct consequence of Westinghouse – the American nuclear build powerhouse – declaring bankruptcy in March 2017. The last new build to come on-line in the USA (Oct 2016) was Watts Bar 2, currently the record holder for the longest nuclear plant build ever – 43 years. The nuclear (energy) world is changing. Many suggest that the industry is in terminal decline, that it is following in the footsteps of other pivotal technologies like the Concorde and the Space Shuttle – brilliant scientific feats, but no longer economically viable given ongoing operational and safety constraints.

However, listening to the public relations hype being generated by the nuclear industry one wonders if they have special access to a parallel universe. Nuclear energy advocates are good at two things: selling (only) the positives of nuclear and creating “straw men” about the opposition to nuclear. And so lobbyists, such as Dr Kelvin Kemm (CEO of Nuclear Africa and Chairperson of NECSA), emphasise jobs, energy security, constancy of supply (baseload) and scientific progress as guaranteed in-the-bank benefits. At the same time they accuse those opposed to nuclear of all kinds of evil misdeeds: being unpatriotic, anti-progress, anti-jobs, like terrorists, essentially anti-everything and then endow them with magical powers that seemingly give them unlimited abilities to make nuclear mega-projects fail. Thrown into the mix too are always comments that white-ant (think hungry termites eating something from the inside out) renewable energy.

The most recent example of this positive spin is Dr Kemm’s exclusive interview with the St Francis Chronicle in which he is quoted as saying that the recent set-back for the South African nuclear programme is simply “a bump in the road, not even a pothole” and that “fake news” (a term now made famous by President Donald Trump) was spreading false rumours that the project was either cancelled or delayed.

No one is saying the project is cancelled. But the Minister of Energy, Mmamoloko Kubayi, in an interview with energy expert Chris Yelland on Friday 4 August 2017 confirmed that, “…we have decided to relook at the whole nuclear process and the requirement for nuclear IGAs, to see if there is anything that needs improving or reworking. There are lessons to learn from what has happened before…” and “…we are reviewing the whole nuclear process, taking it to cabinet, advising them on the issues, and making recommendations.” That hardly sounds like Dr Kemm’s assertion that “we can essentially start with the site development immediately when the Environment Minister signs the ROD for the selected site”? But Dr Kemm is correct on one thing, it isn’t a pothole. It’s far greater – an entire re-set of the nuclear build programme. For a process that started in 2006/7 to go back to the beginning, there can be no doubt that this will result in further delays. To claim anything else is creative public relations, a salesman desperate to convince a sceptical client that there really is gold at the end of the rainbow.

So what is this setback? On the 26 April 2017, the Cape High Court found that the intergovernmental agreements (IGAs) between South Africa and specifically Russia, America and South Korea to be unconstitutional and unlawful. It also declared the Section 34 Ministerial Determination that made Eskom the procuring agent of nuclear as invalid, and so too Eskom’s request for information (RFI) that would have started the procurement process.

In effect, before the nuclear build can progress a number of processes must be completed. First up, the plan for electricity supply – the integrated resource plan (IRP) that decides if and when nuclear is needed – must be updated. The Minister of Energy has indicated early 2018 as the most likely date for this. Then it requires a Section 34 determination to establish who will procure the nuclear build. Thereafter, any nuclear IGA will have to be tabled in parliament before the procurement process can start – given the size, scope and nature of nuclear builds, an IGA is inevitable as South Africa cannot source the required R1 Trillion plus in any normal commercial transaction. Furthermore, before site preparation can take place the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) must issue the builder of the plant with a nuclear site installation licence (NSIL). And before that, the Department of Environmental Affairs (DEA) must give the environmental go-ahead (record of decision) based on the environmental impact assessment (EIA) that started in 2007 and, after five iterations, was finally submitted in mid-2016. Each of these processes includes the potential of further public participation, an appeal and a subsequent legal challenge.

 

Dr Kemm suggests that this whole process is “something like building a garage for your new car”. It is nothing of the sort. It is a highly complex mega-project that must overcome numerous economic, engineering, safety and legal obstacles before it can proceed. Even then, as the USA new build demonstrates, the project can be abandoned before completion. Cancelled? No. Delayed? Already years behind and more to come! Is it a done deal? Buying a lotto ticket may be a better bet.

Well you decide what is fact and what is fake!

Dog walkers

Dog walkers will need to purchase permits to walk dogs on golf course

At last there has been some agreement between those walking their dogs on St Francis Bay Golf Club land and the golf club committee with the club agreeing to allow dog walkers on the course provided they obtain a permit. For a fee per dog (not stipulated in the letter) with a limit of two dogs and providing the dogs are kept on leashes and stay with a area within the course it seems a solution has been found. But possibly a better solution will be when the St Francis Common is finally cleared and nicely lawned and with walkways and gardens in place.which will certainly offer a larger area on which to allow their furry friends to exercise providing of course all walkers pick up after their dogs.

Content of the letter is published below.

NOTICE TO ALL DOG OWNERS

Dog owners wishing to walk their dogs on the Golf Club Course from 1st  September 2017 will be subject to the following rules and regulations.

  1. Dog owners must be in possession of a valid Permit to walk their dogs on the part of the Course on the sea side (to the South) of St Francis Drive. These Permits are obtainable from the St Francis Bay Golf Club Office.  A small fee is charged per Dog Permit.
  2. A MAXIMUM of TWO dogs may be walked at a time by the Dog Owner and these dogs must be on a leash at all times.
  3. The Dog Owner is to ensure that the flora and fauna present on the course is to be protected at all times.
  4. Certain time constraints apply to the dog walking and are clearly listed in the Permit Agreement.
  5. The Dog Owner agrees to ensure that any “poop” is “scooped”!
  6. The attention of all Dog Owners is drawn to the newly cleared space that the Kouga Municipality has prepared next to the Village Square Centre and the Bowling Club.

School Musical

Sensational School Musical Great Entertainment

Statue in the Park – a musical through the ages – this year’s St Francis College theatrical production was nothing short of sensational! The performance took place at the NG Church in Humansdorp on 2nd August and featured song and dance routines with a selection of popular tunes by the Beetles, Spice Girls, Michael Jackson, Vanilla Ice and many more. There was even a special guest appearance by the amazing John Travolta (headmaster Franzl Bause)

The cast included Roark la Combré in the key role as The Statue who had his costume painted onto him by Burcu Cunneen, one of our nursery school parents who is a gifted artist and art teacher, using her living art form. Other key roles were Noah Peens as The Mayor, Phoebe Costanza and Jamie Lindsay as Jenny and Chris, and Molly Dalton and  Makai Kabot as the Boy and Girl.

As always there are so many folks to thank for making this production so successful. In particular we must acknowledge our talented script writer Elizabeth Carpenter and Mrs Anderson and Mrs Brown for all the drama and music lessons to prepare the pupils for their roles. Thank you to Miss van Olm for the costumes, Mrs Ackerman for the props and Mrs Marais for the makeup.

Last but certainly not least, we want to thank our generously supportive parents and our wonderful teachers for their commitment who made all of this possible.

Article & Photos – Lyn aitken

Help FOSTER

FOSTER needs your help

A letter by the chairman FOSTER (Friends of St Francis Nature Areas) and recently published on their website bears republishing to highlight the difficult situation that FOSTER finds itself in the hope the St Francis community will show their support for this important association in all that they do in protecting our nature areas.

Dear friends of FOSTER

This is a special message from your Chair. The message is simple: financially, FOSTER is going under, owing to dwindling income and increasing costs. We need your donations to keep us afloat.
Take a glance at the graph below and you will see what I mean.

Our income from membership fees and donations – the funds we use for routine management of the reserves – is not keeping up with our costs. This is alarming.

The reason for this is that FOSTER has inherited over the past few years two new and demanding tasks, namely the management of the Cape St Francis Nature Reserve (the one to the east of Cape St Francis) and the maintenance of the fire access routes established after the Feb 2016 fire. The first task is the mandate of Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, and the second is the mandate of the Kouga Municipality. Neither organization has the capacity to adopt these mandates, at least for the next few years.

In the interim FOSTER is committed to the judicious management of our reserves. However, to do this we need to raise R100 000 per year from our members. What we can deliver in return is extraordinary cost-effective management. At R400 per hectare per year, our costs are minuscule compared to the average cost of R8 000 per hectare per year incurred in small, state-owned fynbos reserves in the Cape in 2000 (the figure has more than doubled by now!).

Let’s imagine what will happen to our reserve network should FOSTER no longer be able to continue with its management programmes. Paths will become overgrown and littered; the fuel load will become augmented with invading rooikranz; fire access routes will become impassable; and there will be a steady increase in poaching, snaring, livestock grazing and bush dwelling. It won’t be safe to walk in the reserves.

I’m not kidding. We at FOSTER have responded to all of these threats on various occasions over the past two decades.

Please don’t tell us to approach the Kouga Municipality – the land owner of most of the reserve system – for our funding needs. We have been to many meetings and sent countless messages, to no avail. The shift to a DA government has made no difference whatsoever. Our recent attempt to get the KM to maintain the fire access routes has come to naught. We may have to wait many years before the KM develops the capacity to assist us in managing its land.

I won’t elaborate upon our dealings with the Eastern Cape Parks and Tourism Agency, which is responsible for managing Cape St Francis Nature Reserve. Suffice to say the response has been underwhelming.

What about fund-raising events as a source of income. Well, to be honest, our experience is that in most cases the returns do not justify the effort required of our committee members, all volunteers. Our December 2016 Fun Run, a demanding event to stage, yielded a paltry R12 000. We now have a December slot for a Golf Day; this is likely to raise much more. However, and importantly so, we use the money raised by these events to fund capital projects (e.g. signage, walkways, fire access routes) and not routine management.

To conclude: In all likelihood, the decline of our precious green spaces will impact negatively on property prices and increase our vulnerability to wildfires. For this reason alone, all property owners in Cape St Francis should support us. And for those of you, wherever you live, who cherish our beautiful places where nature has primacy, donate, and donate generously and regularly. And please, renew your membership and encourage others to join FOSTER. We need your money but we will spend it wisely.

You have my word.
Kindest regards

Prof Richard Cowling
Chair: FOSTER”

MEMBERSHIP: If your name is not on this list maybe you would like to add it. Click here for more details and to add your name!.

Fees are R100 per person or R150 for family or corporate membership.

FOSTER is a registered Public Benefit Organisation – all donations over R200 are tax deductible and we will issue the relevant receipt.

Fill in the form  or send us your details with your receipt.

BANK DETAILS:

Friends of St Francis Nature Areas
First National Bank
Br code: 210115
Acc no: 62179531598

PLEASE USE YOUR SURNAME AS THE BENEFICIARY REFERENCE

FOSTER Logo

Calamari Festival 2017

Calamari FestivalCalamari Festival 2017

St Francis Bay has long been famous for its wonderful sporting events in September including the Calamari Classic Golf, squash and bowls tournaments.   Players and competitors travel from far and wide to enjoy the sportsmanship on offer.   Building on this success Tourism is delighted to announce the introduction of the Calamari Festival on Saturday 23rd September.

Offering an afternoon of live music, market stalls, kids’ activities, food and craft beers the event will also include an exciting Calamari Cook Off competition, where professional and amateur chefs can go head to head to create a delicious calamari dish. The general public will have an opportunity to taste the dishes and be a part of the judging process where the winner will receive a floating trophy and be crowned Calamari King (or Queen) for 2017.

The festival will be taking place from 12-5pm @ Village Centre, in St Francis and will be an opportunity for families to relax and enjoy themselves while others are testing their sporting prowess.  Popular muso Ben Badenhorst has been confirmed in the lineup, along with Driftwinds and our very own Absent Irish.  The event is just one of many during a busy festival weekend in the area and is timed to fit in with prize giving and presentation dinners happening later that night, along with live music, activities and celebrations in venues throughout the Greater St Francis.

St Francis Tourism are excited to be introducing this family event and encourage everyone to be a part of the weekend.   Anybody interested in entering the Calamari Cook Off, having a stall or offering food and drink trucks at the Saturday event should contact the Tourism Office directly on office@stfrancistourism.co.za.

Tourism Members of the community who will be offering any special events, services or activities during the weekend are asked to notify the Tourism Office asap so they can be included in the full weekend programme.

For more info contact St Francis Tourism on office@stfrancistourism.co.za or 042 294 0076

Also read about the Great Calamari Cook-Off