THE PROPOSED THYSPUNT NUCLEAR POWER STATION
For a ten year period ending in 2017, Thyspunt, an area situated 15kms from Cape St Francis and 100km from Port Elizabeth was the centre of focus for the proposed Nuclear Power Development Program launched by the government. Thyspunt was declared by Eskom as the ‘preferred site’ for the construction of a 4000MW Nuclear Power Station.
Predictably, huge debates with regard to environmental issues, and the financial, social and economic implications of such a massive construction have raged during this 10 year period. Fears for many of the power plant coming to the area increased as other locations such as Pearly Beach, Duynefontein and Bantamsklip fell out of favour with the entire focus being put on to Thyspunt.
The company given the responsibility of conducting an Environmental Impact Assessment had to return to the drawing board repeatedly over this period due to inaccurate reporting on certain vital issues
A big role was played by the very passionate opposition group – the Thyspunt Alliance. Their objections to the building of the NPS centred around issues such as :
> ‘the historical and cultural significance of the area , seen as the “Coastal cradle of human kind.”. Invaluable archaeological and paleontological resources of the area could have been endangered and never replaced.
>the rare fynbos heritage endemic to this area only and which could have been destroyed by a construction project of this scale
>the fact that the area is a prevalent farming and agricultural area
>the added burden to pressing social issues already plaguing the area : unemployment, lack of adequate housing, already challenged water and sewerage issues.
> the potential damage to a sea-based chokka industry which provides the main source of income to many of the township inhabitants.
> recognized as one of the leading coastal tourist destinations in South Africa, the area and its inhabitants would have a lot to lose should the construction of this huge power station bring about an industrialization of the area.
The plans to launch a major Nuclear Power Build in South Africa were overturned in 2017 for reasons that had little to do with the unsuitability of the Thyspunt or other sites site but far more to do with the political shift that took place in the government.