Nuclear Power Risk

The risks of adding nuclear energy to South Africa’s power grid outweigh its economic benefits, the country’s Catholic Justice and Peace Commission said as it called for a halt to nuclear procurement plans and a referendum on the issue. South Africa is in a financial crisis and cannot afford the new nuclear plants, reported to cost about $100 billion, the commission said in a statement on Dec. 29 from its chairman, Bishop Abel Gabuza of Kimberley. The statement, which followed an announcement that the government would go ahead with plans to add 9,600 megawatts of nuclear energy to the country’s strained grid and would call for bids, also raised concerns about the project’s vulnerability to corruption. The commission urged President Jacob Zuma’s administration to poll citizens on its plans. “Given the enormity of the risks that the South African government is asking its citizens to bear through the nuclear option, including the enormous safety risks and economic risks, it is only fair that the government directly consults its people on the matter,” said Bishop Gabuza.

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