May 2015 is the new date for the Thyspunt EIA

By Bev Mortimer


May 2015 is the new latest date for the long  awaited Revised Draft Environmental Impact Assessment Report for the proposed Nuclear-1 power station at Thyspunt to be available for public comment.

Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape is a proposed site for the a second nuclear power station to be built in South Africa
Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape is a proposed site for a second nuclear power station to be built in South Africa

This was announced at a mini Nuclear Summit held at St Francis Links Golf Estate in St Francis Bay today, 26 February 2015. Thyspunt is just 10 kms from St Francis Bay in the Eastern Cape.

Kouga Municipality invited Nuclear Africa/ Necsa and Eskom to present the summit to discuss the proposed nuclear power plant at Thyspunt and the implications for the area to about 40 invited guests.

Present were Kouga councillors, various stake holders, including representatives of the St Francis Bay Residents Association (SFBRA), the Kouga Business Forum, the Jbay Residents Association and some invited newspaper representatives, including national TV and radio stations.

 The three main speakers were nuclear physicist, Dr Kelvin Kemm  who is CEO of Nuclear Africa, Gert Greef environment manager for Eskom and Xolisa Mabhonga, group executive corporate for Necsa.  Kemm and Mabhonga gave an interesting and informative overview of the nuclear industry in South Africa and the world, waste management plant at Springbok, the benefits of nuclear (separate article to follow)  and the Necsa corporation’s profile.

Greeff spoke on the Thyspunt site and presented many photographs while elaborating on bush clearing – not to build a nuclear plant as some people believe – but to create firebreaks and eradicate alien vegetation.

At the meeting it was announced that the Revised Draft EIA Vs 2  for the proposed nuclear power station, which was scheduled to appear this month, would now only appear in May. The goalposts for the appearance of this final Draft EIA have shifted several times.

In an interview with St Francis Chronicle, more than a year ago, Deidre Herbst of Eskom, senior manager, Environmental Management for Eskom, said complaints about a road and protracted delays in negotiating a consultants’ contract led to the delay in enabling the long awaited second draft report.  The public has been has been waiting for this report since August 2011.

Last year the EIA Report on Thyspunt was expected in October but this was shifted to February this year.

Herbst also told St Francis Chronicle there will be no plain sailing before the proposed nuclear power station at Thyspunt can go ahead. “There are many hurdles to overcome and processes to work through and any appeals against a Record of Decision issued by the Department of Environmental Affairs  (DEA) could delay the processes” she said.

Herbst mentioned that the DEA has already given its specialists’ comments on the previous draft report to Eskom consultants, Arcus Gibb. These comments will be released at the same time as the third report. The public will be able to comment on it and there will be more public meetings. Then there will be a Final EIR (Environmental Impact Report).

This report and the public comments will be submitted to the DEA that has 105 days to review them. The DEA and all relevant government departments will then provide comment and the DEA will make a decision and issue an environmental authorisation.

This will be published in the form of a Record of Decision (ROD).  At this stage appeals from the public and organisations can be lodged.

 “Substantive changes have been made to the Revised Draft EIR and some specialist studies in response to the DEA and public comments,” Gibb said in a letter to all interested and affected parties (I&APs) in October last year . All registered I&AP’s will be advised in good time of the availability of the Revised Draft and the venues where they will be placed.

Gibb also said the dates of public meetings, the venues for these meetings and the venues where the Revised Draft will be provided will also be communicated in due course. The availability of the Revised Draft and the public meetings will be extensively advertised in the press.”

In addition Gibb said all the comments received to date have been captured into the Issues and Response Reports (IRRs) that have been continuously updated. GIBB will make the IRRs available in due course. “We wish to assure you that all your comments raised previously were captured into the IRRs. IRRs will also be made available on the GIBB website,” Gibb added.

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