all those for nuclear, remain in the room

Submitted by sproutingforth on Thu, 2009-09-10 12:13

CANE chairperson, Mike Kantey, was thrown out of a recent nuclear stakeholders meeting for daring to challenge Kelvin Kemm's case for 'clean energy'.

The government met on Tuesday in Cape Town at the Southern Sun hotel with nuclear stakeholders in what was supposed to be an open and constructive get together; an informative, open discussion of the issues, both for and against nuclear power.

The purpose of the meeting with nuclear stakeholders, the government originally said in their invitation, was to engage all nuclear stakeholders in South Africa on issues regarding nuclear operations. The media was invited too.

“When we got there the room was FULL of pro-nukers, from "old-timers" like John Walmsley, Kelvin Kemm, Andrew Kenny - and even Gordon Sibiya!" said Mike...

"Representatives from the pro-nuclear lobby included: both Chairmen of Pelindaba and Koeberg Safety Forums (passive acquiescent types); former spokesperson Bheki Khumalo; PBMR's link man to Germany Dieter Matzner; Madube from NECSA, PBMR's rep to NIASA Claasen; NIASA man from Dorbyl, Booysen; Acting Director Nuclear Ditebogo Kgomo; Gawie Nothnagel, representing Rob Adam of NECSA .. and someone called Obed Damane from NUM ( National Union of Mineworkers) whom I've not encountered in 25 years of anti-nuclear struggle.

In the chair was Acting DME Communications spin-wallah Baby Khumalo, who opened with some misplaced witty dialogue, quoting from people such as Kennedy and Kruschev, on nuclear holocausts and Maggie Thatcher(!) on the joys of owning nuclear weapons.

The Minister then launched forth on the equal joys of having "abundant sources of uranium", which was just waiting to be "beneficiated" ... and that "we need to work together.. for the best interests of the country". Her punchline was: "If we're  looking for clean energy, then nuclear is the best way to go." So much for open debate!

She then outlined four points for discussion:

  • The public's right to know. (read: what we alone will decide to tell them)
  • Security of Fuel Supply (read: more uranium mining)
  • The necessity for sound nuclear waste management (read: whether the City of Cape Town or the Namqualand community want it nor not)
  • Adherence to the NPT (read: and the spread of "clean" nuclear technology with lots more uranium mining)
  • Then I lept in to attack the agenda and pointed out the vagaries of ANC nuclear policy, where no previous discussion was entertained, but any discussion of the "ruling party's" nuclear policy was ruled "out of order" and I was referred to some 1993 "Ready to Govern" document (the 1994 policy conference notwithstanding), as well as resolutions taken at the 51st ANC Conference in Stellenbosch (prior to Polokwane).

    The NUM representative said that they were NOT opposed to nuclear power, only to the PBMR ... ?

    I was asked to leave the room when I stated that a further address from Kelvin Kemm (Kemm is a former member of Armscor and stands to benefit from the PBMR - read more about the pebble bed modular reactor here - as a director of BEE company Silver Protea)during which he waxed lyrical about the case for 'clean energy', was a lot of twaddle."

    Here follows the press release issued by NEC and CANE:

    Anti-nuclear activist evicted from Energy Minister's nuclear stakeholder fiasco

    Government turns its back on thousands of jobs and SME opportunities giving dictatorial support for “arms deal style” nuclear power acquisitions that will impose nuclear risks to South Africans for thousands of years. Billions of rand destined to alleviate poverty will once again be commandeered by the ruling party without allowing any public debate to derail this irrational & unsustainable policy.

    “Is this the Government we fought to bring to power?” asked anti-nuclear stalwart Mike Kantey who was evicted from a nuclear stakeholder meeting on Tuesday in Cape Town called by Energy Minister Dipuo Peters.

    Meant to be an open and constructive get together of “nuclear stakeholders”- including those against nuclear power – it turned into a fiasco. In just over an hour, Kantey the lone anti-nuclear activist in a predominantly pro-nuclear government and industry gathering, was summarily ejected for daring to challenge Kelvin Kemm’s claim that nuclear power is a form of “clean energy”. Discussion of the ruling party's nuclear policy was also ruled "out of order".

    A former member of Armscor from 1981-1986, Kemm stands to benefit from the PBMR boondoggle as a director of BEE company Silver Protea. Kantey is the self-funded Chairperson of the national Coalition Against Nuclear Energy (CANE) and was one of only four civil society invitees to the meeting.

    At the same meeting, Deputy General-Secretary of the National Union of Mineworkers Oupa Komane introduced himself as a "representative of the working class" and confirmed that the biggest trade union in COSATU and an active member of the Tripartite Alliance is "opposed to the PBMR but in favour of nuclear power."

    All those affiliated to CANE -- as well as those sister organisations opposed only to the siting of a nuclear power station in their region -- will be having their own consultation to determine what response will be appropriate in the forthcoming months leading up to the 2010 World Cup.

    Given the credence given to climate change denialist Kelvin Kemm in the meeting, and the Minister's own attempts to convince civil society that "nuclear power is a clean energy option", we will continue to broaden and strengthen the Coalition across all sectors of society -- including our own trusted allies within the Tripartite Alliance.

    The new-look Government should understand once and for all that the anti nuclear lobby cannot be co-opted, isolated or marginalised, since it remains united in opposition to nuclear energy, whether at the local level, or as a "one-size-fits-all" national energy policy. The blatant attempt to over-represent nuclear lobbyists with minimal civil society representation as ‘stakeholders”, must be addressed and rectified.

    The anti nuclear lobby believes that the R1.3-trillion nuclear policy will hold back scarce public funds from solving the real issues of grinding poverty and economic injustice and will also substantially delay delivery of reliable energy to the economy due to massive delays in bringing nuclear power plants on line.

    If China can build a massive two gigawatt solar plant, enough to power about 3 million Chinese households for less than $6 billion resulting in a tariff of 15 to 25 cents per kilowatt hour, why does South Africa with the best solar potential in the world want to go nuclear? *

    Nuclear stakeholder groups from Namaqualand, Bantamsklip, Thyspunt, Koeberg and Pelindaba expressed solidarity with Kantey and questioned why their representatives had not been invited to the meeting which was billed as all-inclusive, as announced by the Minister.


    National Executive Committee
    Coalition Against Nuclear Energy

    To join the protest against nuclear.