Life at the South African ministry of environment headquarters came to a standstill on Thursday this week after activists from Greenpeace and Earthlife Africa blocked its main entrance with nuclear barrels, reports said.
The environmentalists were demanding that the ministry withdraw the environmental authorisation that has been issued for a proposed nuclear power station at Duynefontein, adjacent to Koeberg in the Western Cape Province.
At dawn, Greenpeace and Earthlife – both from Africa’s branches – activists unloaded nuclear barrels filled with smoke and simulated a nuclear disaster. The activists held banners stating that nuclear is never safe and that South Africans say no to nuclear.
The main message ‘Stop Nuclear, Protect our Future’ is being displayed on a massive banner, which is hanging from the entrance to the building itself. The protest highlights the fact that nuclear is dangerous and expensive and should not be under consideration in South Africa.
“The minister of environmental affairs is the custodian of the environment for South Africa. The Minister is tasked with ensuring that our constitutional right to a healthy environment is protected for current and future generations,” Melita Steele, Greenpeace Africa senior climate and energy campaign manager, said.
“Approving the construction of a nuclear power station is outright negligence and the minister is putting all South Africans at risk, including future generations. South Africans are clearly saying no to nuclear, and there is no point coming to work if you are going to completely fail to do your job,” Steele added.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the new nuclear power station has been a drawn-out process for nearly a decade, with affected communities, civil society and South African citizens conned into contributing to what has been a flawed process from the start.
The minister has chosen to discard the input of civil society and follow the recommendations of a flawed EIA report, which were based on outdated, and incomplete information, as well as assumptions that are not justified or justifiable.
“The 30 day period for South Africans to appeal the environmental authorisation for Duynefontein comes to an end tomorrow,” Makoma Lekalakala, senior programmes Officer for Johannesburg-based Earthlife Africa,.
“Earthlife Africa and Greenpeace Africa are here to show our opposition to the construction of a new nuclear power station in this country, and to call on the minister to withdraw her approval.”