Nukes Are Not the Answer!

France’s failures prove nuclear investments too risky

Feature story - March 1, 2011
On the first day of Zuma’s state visit to France, we urge him not to fall into a dangerous trap set by the French nuclear industry. Instead, we'd like him to learn from France's nuclear failures and invest in our renewable energy industry.

Nukes out of Africa!

Greenpeace activists from five countries launched a pre-dawn protest at Koeberg, Africa’s only nuclear power plant as world leaders gather in Johannesburg for the Earth Summit in 2002. Six activists climbed onto the roof of nearby buildings before dropping a banner that read "Nukes Out of Africa" . Activists were later taken into custody.

“The French nuclear industry is on the verge of collapse, and wants a big international nuclear deal with South Africa to come to its rescue. Following the French nuclear example would be nothing short of disastrous for South Africa, a country which can ill afford large investments in such risky, old-fashioned technology,” said Rianne Teule, Greenpeace’s energy campaigner.

Nuclear is not the answer!

The bottom line is that nuclear is a dangerous and expensive distraction from sustainable development.

Despite 40 years of nuclear experience, and with 80% of France’s electricity coming from nuclear power plants, the country still has no solutions for the problems of radioactive waste, proliferation and safety.

One of the largest nuclear dumps in the world, the Centre de Stockage de La Manche (CSM) in northern France, is leaking contaminated water from the site into an underground aquifer, threatening the surrounding agricultural land.

While France has been promoting the French-designed European Pressurised Reactor (EPR) as the flagship of the new generation of nuclear power plants, the EPR’s currently under construction in Finland and France are dramatically over budget and behind schedule, with thousands of technical problems.

Nuclear makes sense for French nuclear industry, not for South Africa

“The French nuclear industry is so desperate for prospective exports that it will promise low price and high service to secure an agreement with South Africa”, says Yves Marignac, an independent French consultant on nuclear and energy issues.

“No matter how attractive this might seem, what France actually offers to export is a failed nuclear and energy model. This obsession for a nuclear deal means a badly missed opportunity for the country to step in on the world renewable market, and for South Africa to take lead in the transition to new energy solutions”.

South Africa has some of the best renewable energy resources in the world, offering immediate opportunities to create major benefits for its people, its economy and the climate. President Zuma needs to choose a green development pathway as it is the only viable option for the country’s future.