Department of Environmental Affairs grants Environmental Authorisation for the proposed construction and operation of the Eskom Nuclear Power station at Duynefontein in Western Cape
18 October 2017
The Chief Director responsible for Integrated Environmental Authorizations (IEA) in the Department of Environmental Affairs, Mr. Sabelo Malaza has granted an environmental authorisation (EA) on 12 October 2017 for the construction and operation of a Nuclear Power Station and associated infrastructure at Duynefontein in the Western Cape Province.
The Chief Director acted in terms of an authority delegated to him under the National Environmental Management Act (Act 108 of 1998) when he decided this application.
Eskom Holdings (SOC) Limited lodged an application for environmental authorisation in 2007 and commissioned an independent environmental consultancy, Gibb, to conduct the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) process for the abovementioned application.
The independent consultant identified five sites as alternatives for the proposed development during the Scoping Phase of the Environmental Impact Assessment, namely Brazil and Schulpfontein (Northern Cape); Duynefontein (Western Cape); Bantamsklip (Western Cape) and Thyspunt (Eastern Cape).
The Brazil and Schulpfontein sites were considered unsuitable for the proposed development and were eliminated from further assessment during the Scoping Phase. Bantamsklip was eliminated from further consideration in the Environmental Impact Assessment stage and the following shortcomings led to its elimination: transportation risks, urban planning and the level of detail provided in the assessment report on the transmission of power from the operational station was found to be inadequate when compared to the other two sites. The Thyspunt and Duynefontein sites were the only two sites that progressed to the Final Environmental Impact Report (FEIR) phase and were presented as viable sites for this proposed development.
The Chief Director: IEA considered a number of factors presented in the Final Environmental Impact Assessment Report (FEIR) as part of the decision-making process. These included, amongst others, the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010.
The CD: IEA was satisfied that, on the basis of the information available to him that Eskom had complied with the requirements for the National Environmental Management Act, (No 107 of 1998) and, more specifically, the Environmental Impact Assessment Regulations, 2006. Hence, he was able to proceed with making a project level decision on the acceptability of the environmental implications of the proposed Nuclear Power Station.
The Duynefontein site was selected given that there were generally less overall environmental impacts associated with this site relative to impacts associated with the development of a “greenfields” site. The Duynefontein site is also adjacent to the existing Koeberg Nuclear Power Station, thereby allowing for a suite of logistical and operational synergies.
Some of the more important considerations that informed the decision included the following:
- The objectives and requirements of all relevant legislation, policies and guidelines (specifically the National Environmental Management Act, 1998 (Act 107 of 1998) and the required public participation processes had been adequately addressed,
- The specialist studies undertaken to inform the decision were of high standard and satisfied all specified requirements; and
- Recommendations and guidance received from the external advisory panel during all relevant phases of the decision- making process assisted the process.
One of the important conditions is that the construction of the Nuclear Power Station and associated infrastructure at Duynefontein may only commence after the National Nuclear Regulator has granted a nuclear installation site license in terms of the provisions of the National Nuclear Regulator Act (Act 47 of 1999).
It is important to note that the National Nuclear Regular (NNR) will need to approve the safety case for each stage of proposed construction, operation and, ultimately, decommissioning of the nuclear power station.
In addition, once a nuclear power station vendor has been selected, the draft Environmental Management Plan must be amended and submitted to the branch responsible for Integrated Environmental Authorizations (IEA) in the Department of Environmental Affairs.
Eskom, as the holder of the environmental authorisation, is required to ensure compliance with the conditions contained in the authorisation. Non-compliance with any of the conditions of the authorisation may result in compliance and enforcement action that may include criminal prosecution or other administrative action to ensure compliance.
The Minister of Environmental Affairs is the Appeal Authority in terms of Section 43 of the NEMA. Hence, any appeals against the decision taken by the Chief Director will be considered and decided by the Minister.
For media queries, contact:
Mr. Sabelo Malaza, Chief Director: Integrated Environmental Authorisations
Cell: 082 944 7804