Faith communities welcome Eskom’s release of crucial information about safety at Koeberg

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The Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) has expressed its satisfaction following the news that “Eskom has finally bowed to legal pressure from Koeberg nuclear activists’ attorneys to release most of the previously redacted vital information contained in its two safety case reports.”

According to SAFCEI Executive Director Francesca de Gasparis, in 2021, after Eskom’s plans to extend the lifespan of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station became evident, the organisation had also submitted a Promotion of Access to Information Act (PAIA) application for this very information. She says that, at the first request was denied, but that later the multi-faith eco-justice organisation received a report which was so heavily redacted that almost nothing was revealed. SAFCEI was but one of many others who made applications at the time, and who got similar results.

“We welcome this greater transparency from Eskom, bringing the issues related to safety at Koeberg into the public realm. We hope that the information supplied will be sufficient to help raise the public’s understanding of the risks associated with the extension of an aging nuclear plant, especially when we consider that Eskom does not have the best track record for maintaining its fleet. Public trust in the SOE will improve if they are more willing to explain their reasoning and be accountable.”

SAFCEI believes that Eskom must share information about the safety issues at Koeberg more openly because it is in the public’s interest. Moreover, the people have the right to be properly consulted regarding any major decisions to extend the lifespan of this aging, faulty plant. Once the risks and costs associated with this option for our energy future, South Africans should get a say in whether Koeberg’s power plant life extension should be granted.

“In effective democracies the general public and civil society should not be kept in the dark about risks and costs related to how the country powers its grid,” said de Gasparis. SAFCEI believes that, if Eskom spends less time and energy trying to hide critical public information from civil society and instead focused on solving the real issues – corruption, mismanagement, and poor maintenance – then South Africa will have a better chance of resolving our load shedding crisis.

“As we face the double crisis of global climate change – which is visibly affecting various parts of the country as we saw over the weekend with the rampant flooding in western and eastern Cape– and South Africa's self-made energy shortage, we need a transparent and inclusionary government that is willing to prioritise the creation of an energy system that is affordable, accessible, and safe. And, from what we know and understand about the many different risks associated with this technology, that means no more nuclear energy,” adds de Gasparis.