Leaked internal documents from South African utility giant Eskom are said to reveal that a business-risk assessment found the planned pebble bed modular reactor (PBMR) to be uncompetitive in the South African market. The assessment, sponsored by Eskom and inadvertently sent to environmental group Earthlife Africa, apparently also warns of excessive costs if Eskom is unable to attract partners to the project.

Eskom has succeeded in obtaining an interim injunction from the Johannesburg High Court preventing Earthlife from revealing more details of the internal documents and minutes of board meetings that were sent to the environmental group by the utility’s lawyers.

A hearing has been scheduled for 18 October to determine whether the documents, intended for Eskom use in preparation for a case brought by Earthlife, should remain under wraps.

Earthlife has filed a lawsuit challenging the planned construction of the reactor on several grounds, including costs, and in January, the Cape Town High Court decided in favour of the lobby group and set aside an existing authorisation given for the PBMR project in June 2003.

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