Thyspunt – A call to action

The Cape St Francis Civic Association is supporting the call by the Thyspunt Alliance which is opposing the nearby siting of the Nuclear Power Station.

This is a call from the Thyspunt Alliance  – we need your contribution to the  Thyspunt LawFare Campaign  to save Cape St Francis from the impacts of the construction of the proposed Thyspunt Nuclear Power Station which have been identified in the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA).

Do you want:

  • Thousands of heavy duty trucks on the narrow roads between St Francis Bay, Humansdorp and Jeffreys Bay? (yes, this is a major route off the N2 and yes, thousands)

Do you want:

  • Lowered service delivery – water, sanitation, refuse and roads – due to overload ? (remember, Eskom supplies power only – NO other services) In spite of recent reports in the local media, we have received the following in writing from Eskom:

Some press articles incorrectly indicate that Eskom has committed some amount. The true status is that we have started engaging the municipality and there is no commitment yet on what Eskom shall do with regard to off-site infrastructure development.”

Loyiso Tyabashe – Eskom Senior Manager New Build Activities.  6 October 2016

Do you want:

  • The local Chokka industry, a significant local employer, to be threatened by both offshore blasting as well as the disposal of vast amounts of spoil into the sea?
chokka-boat-dolphin-685

Massive blasting will be needed for  about 6? offshore pipes reaching 6km out to sea.  Also  3 million cubic metres of sand substrate will have to be removed from the site, resulting in  about 4.5 million cubic metres of loose stockpile to be thrown into the sea.  It is notable that despite attempted mitigation of impacts by spoil disposal Alternatives 5 and 6, the impact the disposal of spoil results in high consequence and significance levels, and all options are deemed detrimental to the marine environment” quoted by the Marine Impact Assessment from the Oceanographic study in the EIA.

Do you want:

  • The prime angling grounds and spearfishing waters between Thyspunt and Cape St Francis to be adversely affected by the effects of this massive spoil disposal?
seals

Do you want:

  • The waves of Seal Bay to be ruined?

In an addendum to the Oceanographic study the impact of this spoil on the quality of the waves in Seal Point warns: It is considered that marginal increases in sediment will result in a smoothing of the bottom contours resulting in a more consistent peeling wave and therefore may have a positive impact on surf break. However large volumes of sediment have the potential to significantly alter the bottom topography and subsequently significantly alter the break currently experienced at Seal Point……..An impact which is likely to result in a change in way the wave currently breaks is therefore considered to be negative.”

Do you want:

The arrival of thousands of job seekers without formal settlement, increased crime and prostitution, in addition to increased loads on the local clinic – all  impacting mostly on the poor community?

Do you want:

  • Lowering of house values owing to general decline in the attractiveness of the area?

These impacts are not guess work.

The full appreciation of these impacts is the result of the Thyspunt Alliance’s careful studies of the Environmental Impact Assessment  (EIA) (its decision is still pending) and a comparison with the recorded impacts of the construction of the Medupi Power Station at Lephalale.

(While the nuke build may seem to offer the opportunity to rent out your house at an inflated price, it may not be so when 16 young bachelors move in.  We have reports on record of home owners in Lephalale experiencing this).

The Thyspunt Alliance has been extraordinarily effective. For the last nine years we have fought the good fight on your behalf. We have made submissions, engaged with experts, gone through painstaking efforts to request undisclosed documents, and slaved through pages of documents.  And we have assisted the community in signing petitions, by arranging marches and encouraging attendance of countless meetings.

Our work will not be ending soon, as we will be scrutinizing the proposed, as yet uninitiated, Environmental Impact Assessments (IEAs) required for 4 new roads, several new bypasses and the impacts of a multitude of powerlines. We have already submitted comments on the Eskom site license application via our lawyers and will continue to participate in this ongoing process. This submission can be read here:Cullinan & Associates Thyspunt Site License Submission

Thus far the Thyspunt Alliance’s (TA) concerns and objections regarding the EIA findings have meant a revision of a revised draft document – a first in South Africa. It has also meant a two year hold-up to the process.

In addition, the TA engaged Cullinan & Associates to act on our behalf throughout to ensure that due process is being followed (which it hasn’t). We have thus far spent an amount of R200 000.00 on our various legal submission and access to information requests.

For these actions we need money –  both small, and especially large donations towards the  Thyspunt LawFare Campaign

We have established the Thyspunt Alliance Fund NPC Registration Number 2012/099422/08 with Price Waterhouse Cooper as the auditors.

Thyspunt Logo Revised final copy RGB - facebook profile

Some words from Trudi Malan

Coordinator of the Thyspunt Alliance (extraordinary investigator and Warrior, without whom we would not have made such strides).

Friends, neighbours and fellow members of the lighthouse family, lend me your ears.

We make this call to action because we believe that if the construction of the nuclear power station at Thyspunt goes ahead we will lose features of this area that no amount of money will ever be able to replace. We will lose the soul of Seal Point, it will be ripped out and trampled on by the infrastructure collapse and social implosion

As Coordinator of the Thyspunt Alliance, I have spent days and nights, researching and studying not only the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed development but also the impacts of mega construction projects on communities in South Africa and other parts of the world.

I have listened to the arguments of those in favour of the development.  I hear about massive economic benefits for the area, promises of job creation and the pot of gold at the end of the rainbow. Unfortunately, actual facts do not back up these predictions.

The propaganda in the local media would have you believe that the project is a done deal.

Gil Courtemanche said: “Propaganda is as powerful as heroin; it surreptitiously dissolves all capacity to think.”

Edward L. Bernays maintained that  “Propaganda is the executive arm of the invisible government.”

We can therefore not allow ourselves to be cowards into a corner by the peddlers of propaganda. In all honesty, I will not be able to support any project that will contribute further to the culture of corruption that is currently threatening to smother our country.

The proposed nuclear build has a plethora of issues to debate but these issues sometimes overshadow the actual impacts of the biggest construction project in the Southern Hemisphere, on our community.

As somebody who has read the entire EIA and has studied all the Integrated Development Plans for Lephalale published since 2001, I find it very difficult to keep it short and simple, so please bear with me and take the time to read through my attempt at a summary.

What are the impacts for you to consider?

In addition to those impacts listed earlier –

  • There are the obvious and very serious impacts on the natural environment and biodiversity.
  • The un-mitigatable impacts on a cultural landscape of international importance.
  • Of the most serious impacts are the social impacts on an area that already has to cope with a tremendous backlog of services.

Supporters of the project often refer to the positive impacts of the construction of the Medupi coal-fired power station which was started in 2007 at Lephalale, Limpopo Province.  My studies of the Integrated Development Plans (IDPs) of the Lephalale Municipality since 2001 reveal a disturbing picture.

The population of Medupi increased by 25 838.

The supposed economic injection brought about by the massive construction project does not reflect in the economic growth rates for Lephalale.

  • 2007 : 4.36%
  • 2008 : -1.32%
  • 2009 : -6.11%
  • 2010 : -5.76%
  • 2011 : 1.01%

Quotes from the IDP documents are worth considering:

Infrastructure:

“The construction of Medupi power station which started in 2007 has already put tremendous pressure on the Municipality for the provision of more potable water, electricity and expansion of waste water treatment systems. The influx of people from surrounding areas and outside the Municipality has led to growth in informal settlements.” Lephalale IDP 2013

“Intensive road network and infrastructure planning did not precede nor has it kept pace with the significant industrial and population growth within the municipal area. To date few of the unchecked development effects visible in road transport include:

  • Increased traffic through Lephalale without extended road infrastructure
  • Significantly high freight truck traffic, “

“Various national, provincial and local roads in the Lephalale area have been damaged by heavy vehicles. This adversely affects the economic development of the area

  • High levels of road congestion during peak traffic periods.”

“there is great concern regarding the capacity of local government to address their service delivery mandates, particularly in the face of rapid urbanization occurring in many towns and cities. In addition, municipal finances are often under stress, both because of capacity and management issues as well as revenue shortfalls. This exacerbates service delivery backlogs and results in inadequate attention to the maintenance and upgrading of key infrastructure

“Despite it being a national development node, serious development management shortcomings are evident, i.e. bulk infrastructure, municipal capacity and cohesion”

Health:

“the Lephalale Integrated Development Plan rates the HIV/AIDS epidemic as the leading cause of death in the area. The in-migration aspect plays a major role in this study as Lephalale is a mining industrial area, thus inviting migrants in search of employment from afar. “

“HIV/Aids infections in Lephalale are increasing, especially in emerging informal settlements such as Marapong. Statistics indicates that in Lephalale TB/HIV co-infection stands at about 65%, compared to the national average of 55%. “

“Marapong clinic require (sic) to be upgraded or a new clinic be built to provide adequate service for the population which has currently grown threefold as compared to when the clinic was originally established.

Influx of people into the Municipality as a result of economic development has put more pressure on the referral centres. The community not (sic) confident about the services provided at primary health care centre. Lack of adequate financial resources for acquisition of advanced medical equipments. Patients seek medical attention when they are at an advanced stage of ailment and this result (sic) into high mortality rate in children and adults.”

Crime:

“Crime in general is showing trends of increment, this is as a result of more people flocking to Lephalale to look for economic opportunities.

Some observers are linking crime with unemployment and poverty. Taking into consideration that the key socio-economic phenomena that are devastating to the quality of life in Lephalale are:

  1. a) Unemployment and poverty.
  2. b) Secondary to these phenomena is alcohol abuse and;
  3. c) Assault incidents which are normally being reported from the shebbeens.
  4. d) Offences related to liquor trade have increased tremendously “

The time has come for our community to prepare for #LawFare. Our investigations show that the Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the Thyspunt site  is a flawed document. Most of the specialist studies clearly found Thyspunt to be a highly sensitive site (way more sensitive than Koeberg), yet the EIA practitioners conclude  that it is the preferred site. The preference for Thyspunt is incomprehensible given that the Koeberg site would be a significantly cheaper and much quicker option, with considerably lower  environmental  impacts.

The consideration to use nuclear as a method to generate energy is in itself a contentious issue, combined with the massive financial implications for South Africa and the very real possibility of a corruption bonanza this project creates a massive amount of debate.

As Seal Point locals we cannot allow the national debate to overshadow the very real impacts that this project will have on the greater community.

  • We will lose the amazing sense of this place.
  • The KhoiSan will lose one of the last tangible connections to their heritage.
  • A cultural landscape of international importance will be lost forever and with it the opportunity for long term tourism planning and development.
  • A globally unique headland by-pass dune system and an area of critical biodiversity will be ruined.

I often get accused that our campaign is anti-poor and that we are against development.  Building a nuclear power station here will not provide the economic engine it promises.  Construction jobs are more than likely to be outsourced. The current fishing, chokka  and tourism industries will be devastated and employment shrunken.  Ultimately the current employment will be replaced by a mere 1500 jobs running the power plant, leaving behind thousands of desperate aspirant workers.

Having seen the devastating effect that the construction of Medupi had on the previously disenfranchised community of Maropeng, I am convinced that the greatest impact of this mega project will be on the communities where the paper-promises will be multiple but the actual delivery will be no more that whispers in the wind.

I call on you to contribute to the Thyspunt LawFare Fund. It is an unfortunate truth in our country at present that the voice of civil society will only be heard once we approach the government via the courts.  Thyspunt Lawfare Campaign

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