Creecy demands proof of expertise in Karpowership gas explosion risk report
National Environment Minister Barbara Creecy has directed Karpowership to provide proof of the expert qualifications of a Cape Town company that conducted gas explosion risk assessments for the controversial floating power ship plan in three South African harbours.
This comes after Daily Maverick raised repeated questions about the authenticity of an alleged university BSc chemistry degree claimed by Terence Thackwray, who has previously represented himself as the “independent specialist” in Karpowership’s Major Hazard Installations risk reports for Richards Bay, Ngqura and Saldanha Bay harbours.
Karpowership environmental consultant Hantie Plomp was given seven days to furnish “confirmation of the relevant qualifications, accreditation and experience of the specialist who conducted and prepared the Major Hazard Installation (MHI) assessment” for the Ngqura power ships application.
It remains unclear whether Creecy’s directive refers to the qualifications of Terence, those of his father Claude (who signed off as the risk assessor) or both.
Creecy has further called on Karpowership to provide clarity on whether there is still any “tension” between the Transnet National Ports Authority and Karpowership over the location of powerships in the Port of Ngqura.
This came to light in an appeal decision published on 14 September, in which Creecy put the environmental approval process for the Ngqura issue on hold because of “various gaps in information and ambiguity” in a legal appeal lodged by Karpowership.
The MHI gas fires and explosions risk report was prepared by MHR Consultants CC, a Cape Town company, which has previously listed Terence Thackwray, his father Claude Thackwray and Siegfried “Tienie” Steven among its team of experts.
But MHR Consultants applied for “voluntary” suspension from the SA National Accreditation Authority (Sanas) earlier this year, apparently due to the resignation of Steven, an 82-year-old petrochemical specialist.
Terence Thackwray also signed a sworn statement at Melkbosstrand Police Station last year, declaring that he was the independent specialist for the Karpowership MHI risk assessment report. In that statement, he also purported to hold a BSc degree in chemistry – even though he had previously acknowledged that this degree was only “partially completed”.
His father Claude, who has declared his highest academic qualifications as a National Higher Diploma from Pretoria Technikon, is now listed as the company’s sole representative in a reinstated Sanas accreditation document issued on 19 July.
Creecy, however, has called for further proof of relevant academic qualifications of the MHR Consultants “specialist” after a series of appeals by Karpowership and other parties during the environmental approvals process.
The minister stated in her interim appeal decision that if Karpowership failed to provide the confirmation she required, the Turkish-controlled company would be required to engage a suitably qualified specialist to conduct a fresh MHI assessment.
It is noteworthy that in previous statements to Daily Maverick (issued via Karpowership environmental consultant Plomp), MHR Consultants claimed that Terence Thackwray completed his BSc degree in 2019.
Here is a copy of the affidavit he signed at Melkbosstrand Police Station in October 2022, representing himself to Creecy’s department as the “independent specialist”, while also claiming to hold a BSc degree in Environmental Management (Chemistry).
Invited to comment on Creecy’s directive, Claude Thackwray said on behalf of MHR Consultants that: “A response was submitted to the minister providing proof of Sanas accreditation and all other relevant documents to prove that MHR Consultants is competent to conduct the required risk assessments. Should your article have any inaccuracies or slanderous statements with regards to MHR Consultants, it’s employees etc. we reserve the right to take legal action against you and the publication concerned.”
Plomp said: “The relevant qualification, Sanas accreditation and experience of the specialist, as required by the Minister, were provided within 7 days.”
Terence Thackwray did not respond to requests for comment.
Separately, the Thackwrays have lodged a complaint with the Press Council of South Africa about a Daily Maverick report on some of these issues. This complaint has not been adjudicated yet. DM