SDCEA to take up nuclear plant fight

People gather to discuss issues relating to South Durban.

THE South Durban Community Environmental Alliance (SDCEA) is taking legal action to halt the industrialisation of Clairwood Racecourse and is gearing up South Durban communities to fight the proposal of a nuclear plant at the old Durban International airport.

SDCEA and the Clairwood Racecourse Action Committee (CRAC) hosted a public meeting on Sunday, 16 August at the Merebank community hall to discuss issues related to the racecourse, proposed nuclear plant and trucking.

SDCEA co-ordinator, Desmond D’Sa said the Clairwood Racecourse has much biodiversity and is home to endangered species which must be protected.

“We are in a legal appeal process but as we wait on the MEC for Economic Development, Tourism and Environmental Affairs to make the decision, we must take our collective voices into the streets. The appeal documents are available for review in public libraries of Wentworth and Merebank as well as the eThekwini municipality environmental health office in Clairwood,” said D’Sa.

Concerns about increased traffic, pollution and trucking were also raised by the SDCEA co-ordinator and were echoed by Junagarth Primary School principal, Anil Bhanprakash.

The principal conducted research on the foot and vehicular traffic in the area around the Clairwood Racecourse, specifically as they relate to Junagarth Primary, St Marys, Parsee Rustemjee, Merebank Secondary and Settlers Primary schools.

“A large number of children at the taxi stop wait for their transport under the bridge at the Clairwood Racecourse and their lives are in danger every day and will be even more so after this development goes ahead.

In total there are 3,792 pupils and 67% of them or 2,555 come from outside Merebank and Wentworth. Teachers at the five schools mentioned number 146 in total, 87 of whom come from outside Merebank and Wentworth (60%). These are alarming figures and risk the lives of many,” he said.

SDCEA environmental project officer, Noluthando Mbeje spoke about the proposed nuclear plant. At a department of energy briefing on nuclear procurement last month, it was mentioned that between six and eight nuclear power plants are envisioned for SA, with speculation that one of these could be set up at the old Durban International Airport site.

“This development is expected to generate electricity for industries and this poses a big threat to people. It costs R1-trillion and in South Africa this could end up being about R4-trillion and we cannot afford this type of finance,” said Mbeje.

She spoke about the nuclear disasters at Three Mile Island, Chernobyl and Fukushima and how people are still experiencing the after-effects.

“South Africa can’t expect to walk into a fire and not get burnt,” she said.

Erin Hanekom

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