Strandveld Tourism and Conservation Association (STCA)
OCF Ecowatch DEAT le terre Bantamsklip 2009-04-14-0
Mr. Dumisani Mthembu
Director Environmental Impact Assessments
Department of Water and Environmental Affairs
ESKOM – ENVIRONMENTAL IMPACT ASSESSMENT (EIA: 12/12/20/944) FOR A PROPOSED NUCLEAR POWER STATION AND ASSOCIATED INFRASTRUCTURE
You are no doubt aware of Eskom’s intention to request permission from the Department to amend the application for environmental authorisation to build a nuclear power station once the amended EIA regulations are promulgated. We were advised by Eskom that “DEAT supported the submission of a revised application, in the event of the promulgation of the amended EIA regulations”
We are aware that no decision has been taken with regard to the amendment of the application and that we should be corresponding with Eskom and/or their appointed environmental practitioner, Arcus Gibb, in this regard. We have however done so but have not received any answers, hence us taking the liberty to approach you directly. We requested Eskom/Arcus Gibb in a letter dated 24th June 2009 to confirm that they will advise all interested and affected parties in writing when Eskom request permission to amend, submit an application to amend or actually submit an amended application to the Department, as they informed us they intend to do. This request was followed up on 12th August but the only response received was that the EIA team will respond “as soon as practically possible.”
Since it is our understanding that the promulgation of the new EIA regulations is imminent there are a number of issues raised with Eskom/Arcus Gibb that we wish to bring under your attention.
We have pointed out and fully motivated our view that, in terms of the old and draft new regulations, DEAT cannot grant permission to amend the existing Eskom application, specifically since the EIA process have progressed to the stage where scoping studies and the accompanying public participation process have been completed, even if they wanted to. Furthermore, it is our contention that if Eskom rules out the assessment of site alternatives for a Nuclear Power Station at this stage of the EIA process it would be highly irregular and contradict the intent of the regulator as well as the spirit of the National Environmental Management Act.
We also expressed the opinion that the provisions of both the old and the draft new regulations, where it specifies the transitional arrangements between the current and the new regulations, were either disregarded or interpreted incorrectly by Eskom. We believe that if Eskom wishes to apply for authorisation to sequentially construct three power stations on three sites, it will have to be done by means of a new application in terms of the new regulations.
The impression is being created that Eskom’s strategy regarding their so-called nuclear build programme is not properly defined and is in disarray. It appears as if Eskom is misusing the current EIA process as a conduit for their unclear strategic direction. We believe that the competent authority should review the procedure currently being followed to reach the environmental authorisation and consider the use of other tools that will clarify the strategic intent and consequences of Eskom’s plans.
The motivation for our opinions and professional advice that we obtained supporting our views are contained in our submission “Response to Revised Plan of Study for Environmental Impact Assessment” dated 23 June 2009. A copy of this submission can be made available to you if so required.
We kindly request that you will take cognisance of our views when matters concerning an amendment to Eskom’s application are considered.
DJJ de Villiers
cc Jaana Ball – Arcus Gibb
Natalie Rich – Arcus Gibb