J-Bay Goes Nuclear

Planned nuclear power facility near J-Bay sparks outrage among surfers

| posted on June 19, 2013

Construction on a proposed power plant by J-Bay could start as soon as next year, and would operate starting in 2022. Photo: Grambeau

The proposed development of a nuclear power facility near Jeffrey’s Bay in South Africa has led to outrage among some surfers and members of the local community. Construction on the power plant, which has been hotly debated, is scheduled to begin as early as next year at Thyspunt, located 10 miles from J-Bay.

When constructed, the plant at Thypsunt will become largest nuclear power facility in the country. It’s been estimated that the earliest the plant could become operational would be in 2022.

Some reports estimate that 6.3 million cubic meters of sand will be pumped offshore during the construction of the power plant. Critics argue that the influx of sand could greatly affect the quality of the lineup at J-Bay, which could also hamper the local economy. The South African government formally finished their initiative to increase nuclear power on March 16, 2011, just five days after the nuclear crisis in Fukushima.

In a quote posted on, Mick Fanning raised his opposition to the construction of the plant.

“The out of sight out of mind attitude must stop now, if dumping the sand on land is seen as a fatal flaw, why would it be OK to pump it into the sea?” said Fanning. “A development of this size on a stretch of coastline known for some of the best surf breaks in the world is unacceptable and it will cause massive damage to the environment.”

The South African government has stated that one of the primary reasons for their support of nuclear power stems from their desire to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. A large portion of the energy that South Africa currently consumes is derived from coal. A recent UN report ranked South Africa as the 14th largest emitter of carbon dioxide.

In an interview with Ventures Magazine, South Africa Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe said that, “It has become crystal-clear that coal is not a long-term solution of our needs. Because of coal, our country is listed among the world’s largest emitters of carbon dioxide.”

  • Patrick Smyth

    Brutal. Trestles too. Brutal.

  • Laurie Landry

    I am all for reducing carbon and other emmissions destroying the planet but there are better alternatives than this ! Classic case of follow the money/who is in bed with whom on this …. blatant disregard for lessons learned in Japan. Sadly yet another…..Pave paradise and put up a parking lot !

  • Mik

    @South Africa Deputy President, Kgalema Motlanthe:

    yes it is clear that coal is an environmentally bad source of energy…
    but so is nuclear energy, with its toxic waste.

    the future is in Solar, and China is leading the way in producing small, efficient panels.

    countries need to let go of the idea of making money via large scale utility companies,
    because the only intelligent solution is electric cars, recharged by individual solar homes.

    we don’t really have an energy crisis, we have a shortsighted greed based intelligence crisis.

    for God sakes, the Japanese disaster is ongoing, and it is not resolved. the damaged facility will take
    30 years to take apart, and currently it is starting to sink into the earth and seep into the water

    The San Onofre facility has just been shut down…

    It’s stupid.

  • George

    The future is in renewables but sadly the technologies are not mature enough *yet*, they will be one day but right now you can’t supply a major countries power on solar/wind.

    Out of sight, out of mind applies to coal/fossil fired power stations more than it does to nuclear, people who say ‘no to nuclear’ don’t seem to be considering that this means ‘yes to fossil fuels’ at the moment. Nuclear isn’t perfect but I’d take it any day of the week over fossil fuel stations. The incident in Japan was caused by local geology making it prone to that sort of natural disaster, I don’t really know if this applies to South Africa as well?

    Coal fired power stations dose the local population with more radiation due to isotopes in the coal being released to the atmosphere than living next door to a nuclear station does – I don’t think people really appreciate or understand that! Also 40,000 deaths per year in the US are attributed to respiratory issues caused by particles released from fossil fuel power, while 0 per year are attributed to nuclear power.

    It’s not perfect and we’ll get there with renewable but at the moment nuclear is the only real solution we’ve got to stopping burning everything and dumping it into the atmosphere.

  • Ronald

    Its madness so close to J-Bay. Another one is planned just round the corner from Gansbaai near Cape Town.

    In my opinion J-Bay has already been destroyed by developers. No one should have been given permission to develop the coastline by super tubes.

  • Micky

    San Onofre shuts down and these clowns still do not get it? Sad thing is all the construction traffic will go via pristine St Francis. This really sucks.

  • Stove

    Not only is there no solution for the nuclear waste, but the carbon emitted to pull the uranium materials out of the ground emits an awful lot of carbon. There’s also the health consequences done to the workers pulling the uranium out of the ground. Nuke plants aren’t the solution. Didn’t any of these politicians learn from Chernobyl or Fukushima?

    Uranium ore emits radon gas. The health effects of high exposure to radon are a particular problem in the mining of uranium; significant excess lung cancer deaths have been identified in epidemiological studies of uranium miners employed in the 1940s and 1950s.

  • bongo

    Well done South Africa its quite strange that the government has chosen nuclear power when 1st world countries like Germany have already started closing all Nuclear Energy plants by the year 2022. Interestingly! The reasons Germany is is closing their Nuclear sites is purely a environmental and health concern.

    If we look at the disaster that occurred at the South Africa’s other nuclear power station(koeberg 2006) where they could not find the correct parts for the nuclear generator and the plant workers were threatened with a fine and imprisonment.If we cant manage our old ones and the radioactive-waste how can South Africa approve, have they not learnt from their mistakes..

    Renewable energies are extremely reliable and their cost has decreased on a average of 40% yearly.South Africa has a abundance of sun more than most countries in Europe that rely on solar power.It is the cleanest energy source and environmentally friendly to humans and animals and the ecosytems. Its cheap and easy to install.

    Why destroy the most beautiful coastline and environment and ecosystems?
    Why destroy the lively hood of people relying on income from tourists visiting the world famous j bay to oyster bay.?

    Whose pockets are being lined to go ahead with this when there has been such intensive studies to show that its not a viable option.Corruption has won again and poor black and white South Africans you loose Again!

  • http://www//; John Morris Retzlaff

    The last time I checked Volcanoes were releasing carbon dioxide into the air which traps moisture which created life and humans have burned for thousands of years thinking the impact is comparable and it does not even come close to natural forest fires or eruptions,so try to remember that man continues to threaten with nukes for greed and self destruction for no other reason but to prove to there egos that they were here on this beautiful planet and can make a difference,but the earth is stronger then most believe and will put man in his place time and again ,but when we can no longer predict the next tides we have then really screwed up, for the best SESSION.

  • Daniel

    Reality is, you’re dealing with an incompetent government. To find a solution, you need to understand the problem. Most folk won’t believe me, but the majority of government officials in SA never finished high school, let alone college. That’s why China is having a field day extracting resources from Africa, like taking candy from a baby…

  • Robin

    When the rest of the world is moving away from nuclear power, our third world country is looking to destroy what resources we have, the choka industry will die, & our fishermen, who find it so hard to make a living as it is, will also die from starvation. Plus we will have MORE crime on our doorsteps as there will be more hungry family’ s to feed.

  • kirstin wessels

    This is a reality. They have started to build the bases of the wind turbines (to generate electricity for the power plant) on the Oyster Bay road. We were there last weekend. Its happening unfortunately. But hopefully they will run out of money and it doesn’t get completed or something like that will happen, who knows..

  • Mark

    Micky calls the people in favor of nuclear energy “clowns”. Well Micky (and others that think that nuclear energy is a bad idea), I am a Radiation Safety officer for the state of California and know a bit about radiation and the safety of reactors. The Ignorance spewed from uninformed idiots is enough to make me vomit.
    Nuclear is one of the safest, cleanest, most energy efficient way of generating electricity ever. Because we can’t see, hear, smell, or taste radiation, it scares the heck out of some people. I’m surprised that the “wind” isn’t being protested against by these idiots.
    Wake up America and get educated!

    • RB

      Chernobyl, 3 Mile Island, Fukishima. It may be safe, but when there’s a problem it’s a major one, no?

  • Craig Wilson

    Suddenly building ugly wind farms on-land or offshore (out to sea) doesn’t seem such a bad idea!

  • Michael Baca

    Well that sucks.