Nuclear Power--Out of Africa!

Press release - 24 August, 2002

Greenpeace activists from five countries today launched a pre-dawn protest at Koeberg, Africaís only nuclear power plant as world leaders gather in Johannesburg for the Earth Summit

Greenpeace activists from five countries today launched a pre-dawn protest at Koeberg, Africa?s only nuclear power plant, in order to push nuclear power technology out of Africa as world leaders gather in Johannesburg for the Earth Summit on sustainable development.

Six activists, three women and three men, from the Netherlands, Australia, Mexico, Argentina, Lebanon, landed on a jetty alongside the plant and climbed onto the roof of nearby buildings before dropping a banner that read "Nukes Out of Africa". The international environmental group's ship, the Esperanza, which is in South Africa for the duration of the Summit, was off shore.

Despite a fifty-year nuclear history of lies, cover-ups, broken promises and vast radioactive contamination, plans are still being drawn up by South Africa?s state-owned power utility, ESKOM, to build and sell new breed of mini nuclear power stations.

"Koeberg is Africa?s only nuclear power plant and should be the last. We are calling on the South African Government to reject ESKOM?s dangerous plans, to be leaders in the renewable energy revolution, not followers down the dirty and dangerous road of nuclear and fossil fuels," said Mike Townsley of Greenpeace.

The arguments against nuclear power are well rehearsed. The industry is in terminal decline. Its much vaunted promises of ?clean, cheap, safe and reliable? energy have come to nothing. Instead, the 20th century nuclear dream has turned into a 21st century nightmare of mountains of long-lived deadly radioactive wastes, accidents, contamination and nuclear proliferation.

Greenpeace calls on governments attending the Johannesburg Earth Summit to channel the US$250 billion annual subsidies squandered on nuclear and fossil fuels into clean, renewable energy alternatives.

Governments from around the world are also urged to make a commitment to provide affordable renewable energy to the two billion people, a third of the planet, who live without electricity, and to ensure that renewable resources provide 10% of global energy by 2010.

Greenpeace is also seeking a commitment that international financial institutions be required to move 20% of their energy investments to clean, renewable energy.

"Energy development must not be allowed to be driven by the shallow self-serving interests of a few powerful corporations. World governments must take the lead in rejecting dangerous and obsolete nuclear and fossil fuel power, and instead they must adopt binding targets for renewable energy production," Townsley said.

Koeberg, 30 kilometres from Cape Town, currently provides 6% of the country?s electricity. The new reactor being promoted by ESKOM is known as Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR). Countries such as Germany and the United States have toyed with similar demonstration plants in the past but subsequently abandoned them

despite serious financial implications.

VVPR info: Photos and Video available through Greenpeace Earth Summit Office in Johannesburg.Photos: Steve Morgan (+27) 828583449; Video: David Woolford (+27) 828583110