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07 Jul 2008 16:24
A proposed nuclear power station at Thuyspunt would be a disaster for the environment and tourism in Jeffrey’s Bay and St Francis Bay, the Supertubes Surfing Foundation said on Monday.
“Local and international surfers ... will not fancy a surf in radioactive waves at one of the best right-handers in the world,” said the organisation, which takes care of beaches and protects sand dunes in Jeffrey’s Bay.
The organisation said seawater would be used to cool the proposed plant’s condensers and then returned to the ocean.
“We are not satisfied that pumping heated water back into the ocean will have no impact on sea life and water quality in the Jeffrey’s Bay and St Francis Bay area,” said the chairperson of the organisation, Tyrone Smith.
If Thuyspunt—just 12km from Cape St Francis—is chosen by Eskom as the site of its plant, a 4 000MW nuclear reactor will be built.
This is more than twice the size of the Koeberg plant in the Western Cape, said Supertubes.
Vulnerable ecosystems and wetlands could be destroyed by building a nuclear facility at Thuyspunt.
Smith also said the large amounts of water sucked in at high velocity to cool the condensers could capture wildlife from the sea and destroy it.
He also said it was a “very real possibility” that dolphins would be killed at the proposed nuclear plant.
“The risk of an accident at a nuclear plant so close to the pristine beaches of Jeffrey’s Bay is unacceptable,” the organisation said, adding that wind speed in the area was strong enough that if there were an accident, radiation would strike the communities of St Francis and Jeffrey’s Bay within an hour.
“There would literally be no time for an evacuation as it would be impossible to warn everybody—the local population would simply be eradicated. The agricultural land would be unusable for thousands of years.”
Botanist Richard Cowling said dune fynbos in the area was endangered and that building the site would require the removal of huge amounts of sediment.
“Any disturbance of the dunes will play havoc with the complex water-flow dynamics in the area,” he said.
Smith said agriculture and tourism, the two pillars of the economy in the area, would be hardest hit if the plant was built. “Would [tourists] risk their safety by spending their summer holidays so close to a nuclear plant that is spewing polluted water back into the ocean they want to swim in?”
J’Bay Boardriders’ Club chairperson Andy Thuysman said many jobs could be lost. “The Baviaanskloof [40km from Jeffrey’s Bay] has been declared a world heritage site and the tourism potential from this may never be realised.”
Planned power lines would be driven through the wilderness area above the highway, he said.
Supertubes said it will be asking people to sign a petition at the Billabong Pro surf contest.
Eskom was not immediately available for comment.—Sapa
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