Western Cape Premier gravely concerned about Koeberg nuclear power plant

  • Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde,has once again expressed grave concern over ongoing delays in refurbishments at the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant, which is an essential part of the energy supply mix for the Western Cape.
  • This critical power generation facility was to be decommissioned in July 2024.
  • However, its lifespan is being extended, to help alleviate rolling blackouts.
  • The work, however, is running critically behind schedule.
  • Unit 1 was meant to return to service in July but may only be brought back online in September or October this year.

Western Cape Premier, Alan Winde. Image credit: DA

“This is deeply worrying for all Western Cape residents,” said Premier Winde. He added, “I note remarks made by Electricity Minister, Dr Kgosientsho Ramokgopa, this week where he too expressed his concern. In light of his remarks, I believe that it is fair to ask that the Minister do all he can to establish what exactly is holding up the process, what is required to expedite the work and to take  South Africans into his confidence and give an honest account of what has caused these worrying delays. More importantly, we need to know what steps are being taken to protect our energy supply due to these delays.”

Shortly after Minister Ramokgopa was appointed in March, he met with Premier Winde in Cape Town. At the time the Minister warned of a 45-day delay in bringing unit 1 at Koeberg back to service. “I raised this issue with the Minister then already and it appears that since then the situation has only worsened,” Winde stated.

When work on unit 1 is eventually completed, unit 2 will have to come offline for up to 9 months for steam generators to be replaced. This will likely lead to more power outages in the coming two years. Each unit generates 920MW. The Premier said, “If both units are out of service at the same time, blackouts will intensify significantly. The Western Cape is in an especially precarious predicament, and it would be disastrous for our residents and our economy. I will be discussing these delays and the steps we as the Western Cape Government (WCG) would like to see taken by Eskom at our Energy Council next week. I appeal to Minister Ramokgopa to prioritise the Koeberg project. My energy team and I stand ready to help the Minister wherever we can.”

Koberg spent fuel pool. Image credit: NNR

Koeberg, Africa’s only nuclear facility, is situated about 35 km (21.75 miles) from Cape Town and was connected to the grid in the 1980s under apartheid. Koeberg produces about 32 tonnes of spent fuel a year. Fuel assemblies, which contain radioactive materials including uranium and plutonium that can remain dangerous for thousands of years, are cooled for a decade under water in spent fuel pools located under the plant. Eskom is currently using reinforced dry storage casks from U.S. energy company Holtec International to store spent fuel while the life extension programme is ongoing.

Read more on the major problems at Koeberg Nuclear Plant HERE 

Author: Bryan Groenendaal

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