Maybe Thyspunt isn’t inevitable! – Response

Yesterday St Francis Today published an article on nuclear submitted as a press release by Spintelligent promoting African Utility Week and Clean Power Africa 2016. The views expressed in that article are those of the author and not of St Francis Today. Obviously it emanates from a pro lobby point of view and so is biased toward nuclear and was published by St Francis Today for the very purpose of encouraging comment and debate. St Francis Today reports on  available news and leaves it to our readers to make their own assessments and decisions allowing readers to comment be it in support of or rejecting any report.

The following response to yesterday article was submitted by Hilton Thorpe  St Francis Kromme Trust representative on the Thyspunt Alliance

Response to article in St Francis Today, 17 Feb., 2016

Your article on the inevitability of Thyspunt going ahead (St Francis Today, 17 Feb., 2016) was a typical piece of the propaganda being disseminated by the pro-nuclear lobby.

What no-one seems to be considering is the price which will be paid by the Humansdorp/St Francis Bay region if Thyspunt  goes ahead. Eskom and the business community argue that it will lead to an unprecedented economic boom for the area. For whom? For developers, estate agents and property-owners, home owners who want to sell or rent their homes, fast-food outlets, drug dealers and prostitutes. This has been the experience at Lephalale, following the construction of Medupi Power Station. For those who simply want to stay and enjoy this wonderful environment, it will be a disaster.

The Lephalale experience has seen a total change in the whole character of the area. Yes, they now have a supermarket, and a private hospital  (both of which we already have). They also have a hugely increased crime rate, the highest incidence of HIV in the country, and chaotic deficiencies in infra-structure, resulting from completely inadequate forward planning. Some long-standing residents have given up and moved out.

It is inevitable that a decision to proceed will be accompanied by a huge influx of unemployed and unskilled job-seekers, who will be competing with the locals for the limited and temporary job opportunities. Most will not find work, but many will stay on in squalid, unserviced informal settlements. No provision will be made for them, and there is no suitable state land in the St Francis area. The “Thatch Farm” has been condemned for residential development, because it is a wetland, subject to serious flooding. This will inevitably lead to land invasion onto private land or nature reserves, as Eskom themselves have acknowledged, and built their monstrous and hugely expensive fence around their property, specifically to prevent land invasion. (Had this not been in place, it is likely that the recent fire would have been prevented, as it started at the fence, and prevented fire-fighting services from entering their land). No-one can predict where and on what scale this would happen, but happen it will.

Those of us who just sit back and argue that it is a done-deal, and there is nothing that can be done about it, should think again. If Pravin Gordhan lives up to his word in the budget, he will announce that we cannot afford nuclear at this stage, and will delay the project.

Eskom is now arguing that Emergency Planning Zones should be reduced from 16 kilometres around the site to 3 kilometres. If this is approved, it opens up a whole new range of sites which could be suitable. If the nuclear programme is delayed, Eskom should be made to complete the site investigation process, which was never completed because of apartheid restrictions, and look for a more suitable site, in terms of the new EPZ criteria, between the two industrial centres of Port Elizabeth & East London. Such a site could well be far more appropriate than Thyspunt.

Hilton Thorpe  St Francis Kromme Trust representative on the Thyspunt Alliance