PBMR appeals begin

3 September 2003

The deadline to appeal against the Department of Environmental Affairs and Tourism (DEAT) decision to issue positive records of decisions for a demonstration Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) and an associated fuel plant (see NEI August 2003, p3) was extended at the last minute until 25 August. The minister for environmental affairs, Valli Moosa, extended the deadline by a further 30 days in response to a request by the city of Cape Town, which was still considering whether to launch an appeal.

The city's request to have more time to consider an appeal follows concern over whether the African National Congress/New National Party-controlled city has been told by the government to accept the PBMR project. The city's mayoral committee member responsible for planning, Themba SeSikhutswa, said that, during talks with city councillors and government officials including Moosa, he had "established an important link between the city and the PBMR process at national level." In addition to a likely appeal by the city, environmental organisation Earthlife Africa has said it has appealed to Moosa to overturn his department's approval, claiming that the safety of stored used fuel had not been adequately addressed.

Meanwhile, the South African Cape Chamber of Commerce has called for a re-evaluation of the economics of the PBMR, due to different economic circumstances since a large gas discovery off the west coast.

The chamber said that the decision on whether to proceed with the PBMR or new gas power plants should be made on "sound economic grounds." A statement by the chamber pointed out: "Developments in recent years have changed some of the facts and assumptions that went into the original decision to forge ahead with PBMR."
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