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Pelindaba nuclear facility in South Afric a has yet another nuclear safety scare

Another nuclear safety scare at Pelindaba as management fumbles, amaBhungane, 7 June 18 

Whistleblowers have accused the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation of sidelining qualified staff in favour of inexperienced technicians. 

Another safety incident has shaken the Pelindaba nuclear facility outside Johannesburg, resulting in the total shutdown of the NTP Radioisotopes plant which produces vital supplies of nuclear medicine and radiation-based products.

Senior NTP staff point fingers at parent company the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa).

The sudden halt in production, which can be lifted only once the National Nuclear Regulator gives the all-clear, threatens global medicine supply.

AmaBhungane understands that the NTP facility was shut down after a dangerous spike in hydrogen gas levels was detected last Thursday (May 31). This, according to a senior technical employee, “could have resulted in an explosion”.

Necsa group chief executive Phumzile Tshelane, speaking on behalf of Necsa and NTP, ignored most questions put to him, saying: “We cannot disclose classified information.”

He did, however, attempt to downplay the incident. “This was a minor incident followed by vigilant safety protocols which ensured that there is no danger as alleged by your source.”

Tshelane cautioned against what he called “dangerous and alarmist allegations”.

This is the latest in a string of setbacks for NTP, the owner of the plant. In November last year, the plant was shuttered by the nuclear regulator after faulty calibrations in an instrument for analysing hydrogen levels.

Several employees claimed that since the November incident the new acting management brought in to get the plant restarted has bungled the recovery process and created unsafe work conditions.

……. AmaBhungane is in possession of correspondence between the regulator and Necsa/NTP from February to May that suggests the recovery process has been far from smooth.

The correspondence paints a picture of a breakdown of safety culture at the plant, where those working on returning the facility to full production are out of their depth.

In their communications with Necsa/NTP, the regulator flags among other things: the submission of falsified results; inaccuracies in tables submitted; the failure to demonstrate repeatability of tests; the unsuitability of a particular individual to provide theoretical training to NTP staff; a lack of due diligence in calibration; failure to submit hydrogen calibration schedules; and a repeated failure to address the poor quality of graphs.

In a letter from March, the regulator writes: “Noting the falsification of information, highlighted by the regulator… and recognising that that similar issue (sic) was previously raised by the regulator… Necsa/NTP Management is required to confirm what action(s) have been taken with regard to this matter.”

The protected disclosure also notes two separate incidents that were incorrectly handled by Necsa deployees.

According to the disclosure, on 28 December the concentration of hydrogen in one of the reactor’s cells exceeded the permissible limit. ……..http://amabhungane.co.za/article/2018-06-07-another-nuclear-safety-scare-at-pelindaba-as-management-fumbles

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June 8, 2018 Posted by | safety, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa: draft Integrated Planning Framework Bill – another attempt to push new nuclear build

DRAFT INTEGRATED PLANNING FRAMEWORK BILL, Another attempt to push the new nuclear build programme? https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-06-04-another-attempt-to-push-the-new-nuclear-build-programme/#.WxcDhzSFPGg, By Daily Maverick Staff Writer• 4 June 2018   The draft Integrated Planning Framework Bill could be the latest worrying development in the relentless bid to push the new nuclear build programme forward. 

On Monday, 4 June 2018, comments from the public on the draft Integrated Planning Framework Bill are due to the Department of Performance Monitoring and Evaluation (DPME) in the Presidency.

The call for comments makes the draft bill sound fairly benign, in that the DPME says the bill will provide for the functions of the department and establish an institutional framework for “a new predictable planning paradigm and discipline within and across all spheres of government”.

However, upon analysis, the bill could be the latest worrying development in the relentless bid to push the new-nuclear build programme forward.

On 17 May 2018, Loyiso Tyabashe, senior manager of nuclear new build at Eskom, said at African Utility Week that Eskom is continuing with front-end planning for a nuclear build programme. This despite Cyril Ramaphosa sending clear signals at the World Economic Forum in Davos in January that South Africa does not have money to pursue a major nuclear plant build.

Within this context, consider the following lines contained in the draft integrated planning framework bill, which says that the Minister in the Presidency must:

(c) annually in consultation with the Minister of Finance develop a budget prioritisation framework in order to guide the allocation of resources to organs of state in the national sphere of government;

(d) annually give input to the Minister of Finance in the preparation of the budget on—

  1. the status of the economy and the possible macro-economic interventions;
  2. its alignment with the National Development Plan; and
  3. the proposed capital and development projects and programmes and related expenditure;

Nkosazana Dlamini Zuma is Minister in The Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation. This bill would give the minister the ability to develop a budget prioritisation framework that outlines which capital programmes to prioritise and to propose the related expenditure. Capital projects could include such contentious projects as the nuclear build, the Moloto Rail and the Mzimvubu dam.

In February 2018, which is after Cyril Ramaphosa signalled at the World Economic Forum that South Africa has no money for major nuclear expansion, the DPME launched a discussion paper on energy. The DPME’s website notes that enquiries related to this discussion paper could be directed to Tshediso Matona.

Tshediso Matona is the Secretary for National Planning at the DPME and is also the fired former Eskom boss to whom former President Jacob Zuma apologised about the way he was treated when he was fired.

The discussion paper reiterates that “the promulgated IRP 2010-2030 included 9.6 GW of nuclear power generation capacity, which has been confirmed as existing policy on numerous occasions. The Draft IRP 2016 that is in the public domain for consultation following a significant time-lapse since the promulgation of the IRP 2010-2030 in 2011 has a Base Case that requires nuclear power by 2037 (earliest) while a Carbon Budget scenario requires it by 2026.”

The discussion paper does acknowledge that the court case in which the Inter-Governmental Agreements (IGAs) with the United States of America, the Republic of Korea and the Russian Federation were legally challenged, determined the IGAs to be irrational, unlawful and unconstitutional. The court ruled that they should be set aside.

However, the paper then continues to say that the opportunity for small modular reactors to be included in the integrated energy planning framework should be considered. While it says that appropriate realistic costs should be considered, the paper outlines in the line immediately before that small modular reactors have typically been considered prohibitively expensive. With regards to the small modular reactors, the paper refers to revived research and previous research in preparation for the shelved Pebble Bed Modular Reactor which cost about R10-billion before it was shut down.

So, if a smaller nuclear build at an appropriate realistic cost could be possible, should taxpayers be worried? According to two recently released reports by the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF), there is cause for concern. The WWF reports look at the players’ potential strategies for pushing the nuclear new-build programme as well as the domestic procurement and public finance implications. WWF cautions that suggestions for smaller amounts of installed nuclear capacity appear to be an attempt to gain support for smaller amounts of nuclear energy and use these as a stepping stone towards building the full 9.6 GW.

How might the Integrated Planning Framework Bill play a role in the continued push for nuclear? If the bill is legislated it would give the Minister in the Presidency responsible for Planning, Monitoring and Evaluation the ability to give input to the Minister of Finance on proposed capital and development projects and programmes and related expenditure. The financing would need to come from somewhere.

WWF notes that finance for electricity generating plants typically comes from “corporate finance, government equity, government guarantees, loans from development finance institutions, a long-term loan from an export credit agency, and extra cash generated from regulated tariffs”.

However, says the WWF, it is unlikely that corporate finance would be used; government-to-government loans or financing from state banks or development finance institutions of the vendor’s home country are more likely to be used, with sovereign wealth funds another possibility. In order to enable a loan, National Treasury may need to put up a loan guarantee. Given the alarming trend of State-owned Entities including Eskom needing bailouts, the possibility of the loan being called in would be a risk. The ratings downgrade that Eskom received would also mean that a loan, if it were granted to Eskom, would attract a higher interest rate than previously.

The draft Integrated Planning Framework bill is currently in white paper form. When it comes before Parliament, there is a strong rationale for civil society to study it closely and make submissions to ensure that it is not used as a tool to push corrupt capital projects through the system. DM

 

June 6, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Minister of Energy says that S.A. has called of the deal with Russia to develop nuclear power

SA no longer has agreement with Russians on nuclear, says Radebe, Fin 24, Jun 04 2018 Khulekani Magubane  Cape Town – Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe told eNCA on Sunday evening that South Africa no longer had an agreement with the Russians to procure for the development of nuclear energy for the country.

Speaking to journalist and political analyst Karima Brown on the news network’s show The Fix, Radebe said he was of the view that government did not appeal the court ruling in 2017 which invalidated the nuclear deal at that time.

The energy portfolio in national government has seen unparalleled instability with at least five ministers of energy in the past eight years, and a subsequent lack of clarity as to whether the Intergovernmental Framework Agreement which mentions nuclear would still be pursued and what role nuclear would play in the energy mix…….https://www.fin24.com/Economy/sa-no-longer-has-agreement-with-russians-on-nuclear-says-radebe-20180604

 

June 6, 2018 Posted by | politics international, Russia, South Africa | Leave a comment

Eskom ‘abandoned’ plans to build a nuclear power station in the Eastern Cape – but is paying R16.5 million to keep it alive

 Phillip de Wet , Business Insider SA May 22, 2018, 

May 25, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s energy corporation Eskom still dedicated to nuclear power

Eskom continues with front-end nuclear preparation May 17 2018   Carin Smith  

Cape Town – Eskom is continuing with front-end planning for a nuclear build programme, Loyiso Tyabashe, senior manager of nuclear new build at Eskom, said at African Utility Week on Thursday.

During a discussion on nuclear energy, Professor Anton Eberhard of the University of Cape Town asked Tyabashe why Eskom was still focusing on nuclear development when it did not seem to be on President Cyril Ramaphosa’s radar.

Tyabashe responded that, although the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) was being reviewed with the aim of being finalised in August this year, Eskom remained the designated owner and operator of any nuclear development…….https://www.fin24.com/Economy/Eskom/eskom-continues-with-front-end-nuclear-preparation-20180517

 

May 19, 2018 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Energy Minister goes very quiet about nuclear power, at African Utility Week

Jeff Radebe distinctly quiet about nuclear power at African Utility Week https://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2018-05-15-jeff-radebe-distinctly-quiet-about-nuclear-power-at-african-utility-week/

The energy minister spoke extensively about successes in renewables and made no mention of nuclear power, at the conference in Cape Town, 15 MAY 2018  TANYA FARBER 

Just hours after being sworn in as acting president‚ Jeff Radebe nailed his colours to the renewable energy mast at African Utility Week, on Tuesday.

Radebe was speaking at the Cape Town International Convention Centre‚ where 7‚000 delegates from around the world gathered to talk about water‚ energy and power.

The energy minister‚ who is acting president while President Cyril Ramaphosa and Deputy President David Mabuza are out of the country‚ spoke extensively about successes in renewables and made no mention of nuclear power.

“To date we have concluded 91 projects with a capacity of 63‚000 megawatts (MW). Sixty-two of these projects have the combined capacity of 3‚800MW, which already is connected to the grid‚” he said.

He told delegates that SA had seen a “significant decline in tariffs of about 55% for wind and 76% for solar” energy. About R136bn had been invested in renewable energy‚ with another R56bn to be spent over the next 3-5 years, when the construction of 27 renewable power projects — signed off in April — will begin.

These projects would save water‚ create 39‚000 jobs and reduce carbon dioxide emissions by 23-million tonnes.

Radebe said the resource plan, which maps out the country’s energy mix for the next two decades, would be finalised in August.

The report is seen as the litmus test for whether Ramaphosa’s government has distanced itself from the nuclear aspirations of his predecessor‚ Jacob Zuma.

Although the nuclear deals were deemed unlawful‚ there is a chance they could re-emerge. But if Radebe’s speech was anything to go by‚ nuclear might finally be fading into the background.

May 16, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Nuclear power “unfinanceable” for South Africa, but is the govt still captured by the nuclear lobby?

Daily Maverick 14th May 2018 , If South Africa’s new energy plan contains nuclear power as part of the
country’s future energy mix, it suggests that State Capture is still
embedded in government, anti-nuclear lobby groups say.

The new Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), a road map laying out South Africa’s future energy
mix for the next 20 years, will be presented to Cabinet on 15 August,
Energy Minister Jeff Radebe said last week. An energy policy expert has
warned that a nuclear programme in South Africa is “unfinanceable” –
even if Russia pays.

After South Africa’s controversial nuclear deals signed with Russia, Korea and the US, backed by former President Jacob Zuma, were found to be unlawful and unconstitutional by the Western Cape
High Court in 2017, there has been speculation as to whether this spells
the end of the nuclear expansion programme, or whether the government would
begin afresh.

The new IRP will reveal which way government intends to go.
If the energy minister knows, he is not saying. At a ministerial briefing
of the energy portfolio committee on Tuesday last week, MPs asked Radebe
three times if the government intended pursuing the nuclear programme, and
three times he gave a wait-and-see answer. Anti-nuke campaigner Liz McDaid
of the SA Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), who with
Earthlife Africa’s director Makoma Lekalakala brought the nuclear court
case against the government, said none of the expert reports on South
Africa’s future electricity mix had found that there was a need for
nuclear power.
https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2018-05-14-industry-experts-are-watching-to-see-if-state-capture-still-has-a-role-in-future-of-energy-in-south-africa/

May 16, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa to review its nuclear build programme

RADEBE: NUCLEAR BUILD PROGRAMME UNDER REVIEW http://ewn.co.za/2018/05/08/energy-minister-radebe-says-nuclear-build-programme-is-under-review

Energy Minister Jeff Radebe says he hopes to present the review of the Integrated Resource Plan to Cabinet by mid-August. Lindsay  Dentlinger , 8 May 18, CAPE TOWN – Energy Minister Jeff Radebe says the country’s controversial nuclear build programme is under review.

He says no further decisions will be taken until the long-overdue review of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) has been finalised.

Radebe says he hopes to present the document to Cabinet by mid-August.

The minister on Tuesday appeared before Parliament’s Energy Committee for the first time since his appointment in February.

Radebe batted away MPs’ questions about the country’s nuclear power intentions, saying he doesn’t want to pre-empt the determination of the IRP.

The deadline for the review of the outdated 2010 document was changed by each of Radebe’s two predecessors, and he too has set a new date for submission to Cabinet.

For now Radebe says the focus is on complying with a High Court ruling which found government’s cooperation agreements on nuclear to have been unconstitutional.

Radebe said: “The issue of cost…I think those were determined at a time when a decision is taken whether or not to proceed.”

Radebe has given a commitment to MPs that there will be more consultation on the IRP including with the public.

May 9, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

2018 Goldman Environmental Prize goes to South African anti nuclear activists

Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid, 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize, South Africa

South African activists awarded Goldman Environmental Prize for fight against nuclear power deal http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-24/two-south-african-women-stopped-international-nuclear-deal/9691528, The World Today By Sally Sara

April 25, 2018 Posted by | legal, opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

Two women tooki on the South Afric an government – and won their anti nuclear fight

Makoma Lekalakala and Liz McDaid, 2018 Goldman Environmental Prize, South Africa 

South African activists awarded Goldman Environmental Prize for fight against nuclear power deal http://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-04-24/two-south-african-women-stopped-international-nuclear-deal/9691528, The World Today ,By Sally Sara

April 24, 2018 Posted by | Legal, opposition to nuclear, South Africa | 1 Comment

South Africa’s Director General of Energy says there’s no new nuclear build programme

ENERGY DEPT: NO NEW NUCLEAR BUILD PROGRAMME, Eyewitness News,  Director General of Energy Thabane Zulu says the government doesn’t plan to spend any money on advancing its nuclear programme in this financial year. Lindsay  Dentlinger 17 Apr 18  CAPE TOWN The Department of Energy says there’s no new nuclear build programme.

The R816 million allocated in 2018’s national budget is purely for the ongoing work of the country’s nuclear institutions.

Members of Parliament’s energy committee on Tuesday sought clarity around the future of the country’s nuclear programme, but committee chairperson Fikile Majola says Minister Jeff Radebe should rather be called to do the explaining.

The Director General of Energy Thabane Zulu says the government doesn’t plan to spend any money on advancing its nuclear programme in this financial year.

He can’t say when the department will be ready to submit the long-awaited, updated Integrated Resource Plan to Cabinet, which will outline the country’s energy needs……http://ewn.co.za/2018/04/17/energy-dept-no-new-nuclear-build-programme

April 18, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa: confusion and uncertainty over costly nuclear deal

Uncertainty mounts over costly nuclear deal https://www.iol.co.za/sundayindependent/uncertainty-mounts-over-costly-nuclear-deal-14317275  SUNDAY INDEPENDENT / 8 APRIL 2018,  SIYABONGA MKHWANAZI   Cape Town – South Africa’s decision on the nuclear programme is likely to be clarified in the next two weeks when Minister of Energy Jeff Radebe briefs Parliament on whether it’s officially off the table or not.

Portfolio committee on energy chairperson Fikile Majola said on Saturday Radebe would appear before the committee in the week of April 17 to talk about independent power producers (IPP), the nuclear energy programme and the sale of the country’s oil reserves.

Majola said he did not know if a definite decision had been made to scrap the nuclear programme, but Radebe would shed light on this then.

President Cyril Ramaphosa said in Davos, Switzerland, in January the programme was off the table.

This was followed by statements from former finance minister Malusi Gigaba and his successor Nhlanhla Nene to the effect that the nuclear project was unaffordable.

But Majola said he was not aware that nuclear energy was off the table.

“The committee is not aware of what is going to happen besides what the president has said.”

The government signed several agreements this week with the IPPs amounting to R55.6 billion. But this elicited an angry response from the National Union of Mineworkers and National Union of Metalworkers of South Africa.

When the matter was in the High Court in the Western Cape, Radebe said there would not be any nuclear deal until the matter had been brought before Parliament.

However, Ramaphosa has said it was off the table and did not even mention it in his State of the Nation Address.

Russian energy firm Rosatom told Independent Media recently it was still bidding for nuclear contracts and had not heard anything from the government.

Rosatom has signed multiple agreements in Africa to deliver nuclear energy. In Egypt the Russians bagged a nuclear deal worth $30 billion (R360 billion), with $25bn of it to be vendor financing.

This week, Russian president Vladimir Putin was in Turkey to sign another nuclear deal.

The Russians are to build a nuclear plant on the coast of Turkey. This followed an agreement signed a few years ago.

Head of Rosatom in southern Africa Viktor Polikarpov said recently the company was in Ghana and was moving into East Africa.

April 9, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa: the country that built nuclear weapons and then gave them up

The Shocking Story of How One Country Built Nuclear Weapons (And Gave Them Up), National Interest,  Dave Majumdar, 28 Mar 18, 

The region and the world are undoubtedly safer because of the decisions made in the 1990s to relinquish South Africa’s nuclear program. Moreover, the dismantling of the relatively small program provided a template for how other nuclear powers could think about eliminating their own programs. However, with the exception of the Soviet successor states (which faced dramatically different constraints) no other states have yet taken up South Africa’s example. With the apparent increase in global tensions over the past few years, it seems unlikely that anyone will join South Africa in the post-nuclear club anytime soon.

The Republic of South Africa is the only country in the world to build a nuclear weapons program, then unbuild that program after domestic and international conditions changed. Why did South Africa decide to build nukes, how did it build them and why did it decide to give them up? The answers are largely idiosyncratic, although they may hold some lessons for the future of nuclear weapons development on the Korean Peninsula and elsewhere……..http://nationalinterest.org/blog/the-buzz/the-shocking-story-how-one-country-built-nuclear-weapons-25110

 

March 28, 2018 Posted by | South Africa, weapons and war | Leave a comment

South Africa cannot afford to build a new nuclear reactor, but Environmental Department gave permit anyway

Business Report 5th March 2018, The Department of Environmental Affairs recently granted an environmental
permit for a new 4000-megawatt nuclear plant, close to the continent’s
only existing nuclear site, at Koeberg in the Western Cape.

This is despite former finance minister Malusi Gigaba recently stating that construction of
a new plant was unaffordable. Greenpeace Africa has vowed to protest the
construction of the new nuclear plant, saying it would infringe on the
environmental rights of present and future citizens of the country.

President Cyril Ramaphosa conveyed at the World Economic Forum in Davos,
Switzerland that the country’s economy indicates that South Africa cannot
afford to build a major nuclear plant. Perhaps the permit granted to Eskom
should be revisited.
https://www.iol.co.za/business-report/opinion/opinion-benefits-and-risks-of-a-nuclear-energy-programme-13601502

March 9, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Mahlobo must accept death knell of South Africa’s Nuclear Deal – Gavin Davis

Mahlobo must accept death knell of Nuclear Deal – Gavin Davis, Politics Web, Gavin Davis | 22 February 2018

DA MP says President must stop the gazetting of Integrated Resource Plan
Nuclear Deal: Ramaphosa must stop the gazetting of the Integrated Resource Plan

22 February 2018

Minister Gigaba’s Budget Speech, which contained no funding for a new nuclear build, should signal the death knell of the nuclear deal.

The time has come for Minister Mahlobo to accept that his attempt to deliver the nuclear deal has failed. With Zuma gone, he has outlasted his usefulness and should be removed from Cabinet without delay.

The Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), that was apparently approved by the Zuma Cabinet in December, left the door open for a new nuclear build. This was despite every credible study rejecting new investment in nuclear as part of the IRP and recommending investment in renewables and gas instead.

We call on President Ramaphosa to put a stop to the gazetting of Mahlobo’s IRP. Instead, Minister Mahlobo should be removed from office and a new Minister appointed to ensure that the new IRP is based on the latest cutting-edge modelling and research……..

We need an IRP that favours clean, reliable energy at the lowest cost. We don’t need a nuclear deal and, as Minister Gigaba has made clear, we cannot afford it. So let’s shut the door on this corrupt nuclear deal once and for all. http://www.politicsweb.co.za/politics/nuclear-deal-mahlobo-must-accept-death-knell–gavi

February 24, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment