June 11, 2020 / 7:48 PM / a month ago

UPDATE 1-South African activists threaten to sue over nuclear plan

(Adds energy ministry comment)

JOHANNESBURG, June 11 (Reuters) - South African activists have written to the energy minister threatening to take legal action if he moves to build new nuclear power plants without proper consultation.

The letter to Gwede Mantashe from Earthlife Africa Johannesburg and the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) comes after energy officials said last month they planned to procure 2,500 megawatts (MW) of new nuclear capacity by 2024.

The activists said they would go to court if Mantashe tried to procure nuclear power, or seek information about it from vendors, without following proper regulatory processes and seeking public input.

Three years ago, the same groups succeeded in persuading a court to block a nuclear power agreement with Russia, signed under then-president Jacob Zuma.

An energy ministry spokesman said the government had adopted “a no-regret option of building nuclear at a pace, scale and cost affordable to the country”. He said the ministry would follow the law in its nuclear plans.

South Africa’s long-term energy plan, released in October, listed nuclear power as an option in the longer term or in case a long-delayed hydropower project in the Democratic Republic of Congo does not materialise. (Reporting by Alexander Winning Editing by Alexandra Hudson and Peter Graff)

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