SA to decide fate of nuclear activist on regulator board

In addition to serving on the board, Peter Becker is a spokesman for the Koeberg Alert Alliance.
Image: Bloomberg

South African Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe has undertaken to decide whether to fire a community representative from the board of the National Nuclear Regulator by February 15, heading off a court appearance that had been scheduled for Tuesday.

Mantashe on January 18 suspended Peter Becker, who in addition to serving on the nuclear regulator’s board is a spokesman for the Koeberg Alert Alliance, which is opposing plans that would see the life of Africa’s only atomic power plant extended by two decades. Mantashe later said that the regulator cannot have opponents of nuclear power on its board. He was sued by Becker.

“The NNR as the second respondent have provided an assurance that all board and subcommittee meetings will be suspended,” the activist and his lawyers said in a statement on Monday. “No decisions will be taken by the board or any subcommittee until the minister has made a decision on whether or not to discharge Becker.”

The court case highlights the difficulties Eskom is facing in its fight to keep its Koeberg nuclear plant in Cape Town operating until 2044. Mantashe, a former coal mining unionist and chairman of the ruling African National Congress, has emerged as a vocal supporter of the nuclear industry, while drawing criticism from environmental activists.

If Mantashe does fire Becker it would pave the way for another community representative to be appointed, which is a legal requirement.

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

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