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Greenpeace activists lock down gigantic Trojan horse at the Department of Energy headquarters in anti-nuclear protest

Press release - July 25, 2015
Pretoria 25 August 2015: Today, Greenpeace activists confronted the Minister of Energy by locking themselves down to a four metre high wooden nuclear ‘Trojan Horse’[1] outside the Department of Energy headquarters in Pretoria. The activists are protesting against the Department’s lack of transparency around proposed investments in nuclear, and to remind the Minister that the nuclear plan is nothing less than a trap - a Trojan horse with a price tag South Africans cannot afford.

On the 17th of August a Greenpeace delegation hand-delivered a letter written by Greenpeace Africa’s Executive Director, Michael O’Brien-Onyeka, to the Minister of Energy giving her one week to respond to and address the key issues that the organisation raised[2] and make key nuclear information publicly available. By midnight on the 24th of August no response had been forthcoming from the Minister or her office, leading to the protest action by the Greenpeace activists. 

The Trojan horse to which the activists locked themselves has been chained to the front gate of the Department of Energy to remind authorities of the dangers associated with the plan to expand nuclear in the country. According to Greek history, a Trojan horse was used as a gift by the Greek army to gain entrance into Troy, which led them to destroy the City of Troy and win the Trojan War. Today a "Trojan Horse" has come to mean any trick or trap designed to undermine from within.

“Greenpeace’s protest action today highlights the fact that the nuclear deal may be presented by government and by the pro-nuclear lobby as something that is good for South Africa, but it is nothing more than a Trojan horse. New investments in nuclear are a trap that will not solve South Africa’s current electricity crisis, since new nuclear reactors will take at least a decade to build. In reality the cost of nuclear investments - estimated to be up to R1 trillion - could very well bankrupt the country and will deliver too little, too late and at far too high a price” said Melita Steele, Senior Climate and Energy Campaign Manager for Greenpeace Africa.

Greenpeace is calling for all studies and assessments regarding the nuclear investments to be made publicly available, together with timelines for the completion of an updated Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) and wide-ranging public hearings. According to the Department of Energy, the country’s electricity plan, the IRP2010, forms the basis for the decision to move ahead with new investments in nuclear. However, this plan is now two years out of date, which means investment decisions are being made based on outdated assumptions and demand projections.[3]

“South Africans have a right to know what the decision to invest in new nuclear reactors is being based on. Greenpeace Africa believes that it is in the public interest that all studies and assessments related to the plans to invest in new nuclear reactors must be released into the public domain, that the country’s electricity plan must be updated, that public hearings on nuclear investments must be held, and that the Environmental Impact Assessment for the first nuclear reactor must be completed before the nuclear procurement process may begin. If this is not the case, the entire nuclear procurement process is flawed” continued Steele.

During today’s protest, activists also held banners stating that nuclear is a Trojan horse and that it will cost the earth, while also urging the Department of Energy to see that solar energy is the solution, and to switch on the sun.

“Greenpeace strongly believes that nuclear is an expensive dead-end road to nowhere, and that renewable energy is the solution to our current electricity crisis. We have tried repeatedly to engage with the Department of Energy regarding the country’s electricity future, but the Department has continued to pursue an increasingly opaque and baseless process to invest in nuclear. Rosatom and other unscrupulous nuclear companies such as Areva and Westinghouse are vying to develop nuclear for South Africa with complete disregard of what the country’s real and urgent energy needs are. We believe that a process that is so steeped in secrecy presents a ticking time bomb for South Africa. If the Department of Energy has nothing to hide, then full transparency would be the basis of the nuclear deal, and we challenge the Minister to make all nuclear information publicly available” ended Steele.



Notes to the editor:

[1] Thousands of years ago, a huge hollow wooden horse was constructed by the Greeks as a gift for its army to gain entrance into Troy, which led them to destroy the City and win the Trojan War. Today a "Trojan Horse" has come to mean any trick or trap designed to undermine from within. We delivered a 4m high wooden Trojan horse to the Department of Energy because new nuclear investments are a trap with a price tag we cannot afford.

[2] Full letter to the Minister of Energy ‘Urgent request for the release of all information related to the new nuclear build programme into the public domain’ available here:http://bit.ly/1TPlD4z

[3] The 2013 Updated IRP concluded that ‘demand projections suggest that no new nuclear baseload capacity is required until after 2025 and that there are alternative options’. This document has however, disappeared from view.


Greenpeace Africa media contact details:

Angela Karnein, Greenpeace Africa Communications:  , +27725608700

Lerato Tsotsetsi, Greenpeace Africa Communications: , +27798056258