Johannesburg, 24 October 2019 — South Africa’s inadequate nuclear liability regulations have finally been updated and gazetted by Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy Gwede Mantashe. This news comes after almost six years of Greenpeace Africa pushing the Minister to do so to protect taxpayers from the potentially astronomical costs of a nuclear accident.
“We can finally celebrate the fact that the financial liability on nuclear power station operators in the case of a nuclear accident has been more than tripled. This is a long-awaited victory after Greenpeace Africa filed papers with the Pretoria High Court in 2015 to compel then-Minister of Energy, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to update South Africa’s ridiculously inadequate nuclear liability regulations,” said Melita Steele, Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Africa.
Nuclear investments carry a hefty price tag and would take at least 15 years to deliver any electricity to the grid which, in the face of South Africa’s recent bouts of loadshedding, are far from worth the wait. Investments into renewable energy technologies offer a cost-effective and safe alternative which can feed electricity into the national grid significantly sooner and significantly more cheaply than nuclear.
“This increase in financial liability for all types of nuclear installations in South Africa is a stark warning to those who have – or propose to have – nuclear licences in South Africa: they will have to pay a substantially bigger portion of any costs of a cleanup after a nuclear accident. They now bear a far bigger liability for a nuclear accident, while taxpayers are a little more protected,” added Steele.