Cape Town appeals PBMR positive record of decision

1 October 2003

The city of Cape Town council has appealed against the South African Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism decision to issue a positive record of decision (RoD) for a demonstration Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) at Koeberg near Cape Town.

Councillor Themba Sikhutshwa, mayoral committee member for planning and the environment, said: "Serious issues raised by the city are not addressed in the record of the decision." The issues highlighted in the city's appeal include: • Assessment of the full lifecycle financial and environmental costs of waste storage at Koeberg.

• The costs to the city of current and future emergency planning.

• Health risk assessment and monitoring.

• The council's role as a key stakeholder in the location of nuclear power facilities at Koeberg.

• That the decommissioning plan be prepared in consultation with the city.

The African National Congress-New National Party coalition council has consistently raised concerns regarding "flaws and omissions" from the environmental impact assessment (EIA) process for the proposed demonstration model nuclear reactor. Of serious concern to the council are the long-term impacts on the city and its residents, particularly the storage of high-level nuclear waste, during the 40-year lifetime of the PBMR. In March 2003, the city concluded that the final environmental impact report was inadequate.

Meanwhile, PBMR's board of directors recently asked the government to make an 'unconditional commitment' to fund the next phase of the project to help encourage investment. Although the board is looking at various avenues of investment ­ from government-owned entities, banks and businesses, the main focus is on American investors. PBMR has estimated the reactor will cost $1.35 billion to complete, of which $200 million has been spent so far.

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