A most interesting three hours spent at St Francis Links last evening Nuclear Environmental Assessment meeting. All that was discussed could never be written in a few lines but certainly the ‘antis” outnumbered the “fors” by a rather wide margin.

Kicking off proceedings the very capable facilitator asked the meeting to respect each other views as everyone present had the right to either ask a question or make a statement no matter their views. Giving the meeting several choices as to the format of the meeting,  general consensus was to first listen to a 20-minute presentation by the assessment consultants before question time. A most interesting and well delivered presentation followed where the presenter discussed how the various aspects of the report were weighed to reach their conclusions, whether one agreed or not.

From the many questions asked it certainly appears that the majority of those present were not necessarily anti-nuclear but rather concerned as to how a nuclear power station at Thyspunt would influence life in the greater St Francis area. The small group of anti-nuclear lobbyists certainly asked some pertinent questions but the choice of site was uppermost in the minds of most.

Of all the questions asked, three standout in this scribe’s mind as most pertinent and certainly need to be investigated further before any final decision can made for none of these questions were clearly dealt with by the panel of ‘experts’.

  • The effect construction will have on the squid spawning grounds.
  • How the Kouga municipality will manage and indeed finance the necessary infrastructure required to cope with the masses of migrant labour that will be attracted during the construction phase?
  • The protection of the heritage sites and fauna and flora surrounding the proposed site.

Certainly there are other questions that need to be addressed but the concerns of nuclear fallout and such dangers are irrelevant for no matter where a nuclear power station is built, the surrounding community would be devastated. On the scale of probability it seems this is a hollow argument for Koeberg has been up and running for thirty years and the Cape Town community is certainly a lot bigger than anywhere in the Eastern Cape and in fact Cape Town has expanded around Koeberg rather than diminish.

So much to be discussed and no doubt this will be the subject of many articles in many publications in the future as it seems a final decision is still a long way away.

As a final word and an observation which we all should take heed of. The one white participant who showed support for the development was loudly interrupted each time he attempted to put forward his two cents worth which truly was not in the spirit of the meeting. At the very end of the meeting a black participant stood up and expressed his views that the development was indeed necessary for the upliftment of the poor and unemployed in the area. Interestingly he received applause for his statement from a small group in the audience.

Certainly we must all look at all aspects of such a development but we must be open minded and see both sides of the coin and tread carefully not to be seen as protecting our own ‘white’ interests.  Elections are around the corner!