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Nuclear power seen as obsolete in South Africa, but they must ramp up renewables, get out of coal

The Dance of Nuclear, Coal, & Renewables in South Africa, Clean Technica May 25th, 2019 by David Zarembka , “………  South Africa has the most mining and industry of any country in Africa and consequently needs the largest amount of electricity – 54,400 megawatts. This can be broken down as follows:

 

Type Capacity [MW] Percent
Coal 40,036 73.6%
Gas turbine 3,449 6.3%
Hydro 3,573 6.6%
Wind 2,096 3.9%
Nuclear 1,860 3.4%
Solar PV 1,479 2.7%
Solar Concentrated 400 0.7%
Landfill gas 7.5
Nuclear accounts for 3.4% of power capacity in South Africa, thermal energy sources 79.9%, and renewable sources 16.7% (hydro alone is 9.4%).

Nuclear Power: South Africa has two nuclear power plants in Koeberg near Capetown. Each unit produces 830 MW of power. The first was commissioned in 1984 and the second in 1985. Their closure dates are 2024 and 2025, although there are already attempts to keep them open longer than their 40 year lifespan.

The real story, the dance of nuclear power, began in 2010 when South Africa planned to build 8 more nuclear reactors for 9600 MW of additional energy at Koeberg and Thyspunt. These were projected to come online between 2024 and 2030. At different times, the United States, Russia, France, China, and South Korea were involved in negotiations. In March 2017, when the Finance Minister, Pravin Gordhan, opposed these new nuclear plants because South Africa could not afford the costs, he was fired by then President Jacob Zuma and replaced with a minister who approved the projects. Due to major corruption scandals, including the nuclear power projects, President Zuma was ousted on February 18, 2018. Zuma’s replacement, Cyril Ramaphosa, immediately canceled the nuclear projects until 2030. By that time, I am sure nuclear power will be seen as obsolete, like the horse and buggy is today.

There is another important side issue to the two nuclear power plants in operation. From mid-2017 through mid-2018, Capetown and the surrounding communities where the nuclear power plants are sited almost ran out of water, as the reservoirs were falling below 30% of capacity. Not only were restrictions placed on washing cars, watering lawns, and filling swimming pools, the water people did receive was rationed. “Day Zero” was announced when the city would run out of water. Since people cut their consumption by more than half, the day was postponed a number of times. Strong rains in June 2018 ended the crisis. Nonetheless, Capetown residents are restricted to 105 liters (26 gallons) of water per person per day. The issue was that the two nuclear power plants were using lots of scarce water. They have now been required to install ocean desalination plants for their water requirements.

Coal: South Africa has the seventh highest coal reserves in the world. In 2018, it exported $6.2 billion of coal, mostly to China, Japan, and India. Yet in 2008, 2015, and 2018, South Africa had “load shedding,” planned rolling backouts where parts of the country are routinely without power on a scheduled basis. This was because, due to mismanagement and corruption in Eskom, the public electricity utility, South Africa’s power stations were short of coal. South Africa has 17 coal-fired plants in operation producing 40,036 MW of electricity. Electric consumption has been flat or declining slightly in the last decade.

One of the problems with these coal plants is that many are old, needing repairs, and expensive to operate. In the next five years, two coal plants with 3,454 MW of capacity are scheduled to be retired, while from 2025 to 2030 seven coal plants with 7,822 MW of capacity are scheduled to be retired. There are two coal plants under construction for 6,800 MW of additional capacity, but they are already years behind schedule at substantially increased costs. The question then is, “Will renewable energy be able to fill the electricity deficit in the country?”

Renewables: South Africa has 2,096 MW of wind power currently providing electricity, 400 MW of concentrated solar power, and 1,479 MW of solar PV. This totals 3,975 MW or 7.3% of the total electric generation capacity.

What is most interesting is that as soon as the new Ramphosa government canceled the nuclear power plants, the government approved thousands of MW of renewable power. These included 2,097 MW of wind power, 200 MW of concentrated solar, and 1,094 of solar PV, totaling 3,391 MW of additional renewable energy. This will almost double the amount of wind/solar power in the next few years.

South Africa has a plan for energy projection to 2030. The additional generating capacity by that time would be 9.5 GW of wind, 6.8 GW of solar, 6.7 GW of coal, and 2.5 GW of hydropower. This, therefore, assumes that the two coal plants now under construction will be completed, but no more coal plants will be built. Hurrah!

Nonetheless, the 2030 projections still indicate that coal will provide 64% of the electricity produced. Wind would then be 13%, solar 8%, nuclear 4%, hydropower 3%, and gas 1%. This implies that the lifespan of the two current nuclear plants will be extended beyond their expiration date.

Over the next eleven years, even with the phaseout of 11,276 MW of coal capacity, the use of coal will decline by less that 10%. With the price of wind and solar declining each year, these goals seem to be without sufficient ambition. Boo! South Africa ought to do better than this.https://cleantechnica.com/2019/05/25/the-dance-of-nuclear-coal-renewables-in-south-africa/

David Zarembka I am a retired Quaker peace activist focusing on genocide, war, violent conflict, election violence, and refugees in Rwanda, Burundi, eastern Congo, Uganda, Kenya, and South Sudan. Since 2007, I have lived in a small town in western Kenya, called Lumakanda, in the home area of my Kenyan wife, Gladys Kamonya. I write a weekly blog called “Reports from Kenya” on current happenings in East Africa. To sign up for the weekly blog, contact me at davidzarembka@gmail.com.
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May 27, 2019 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Concerns about radioactive waste incidents – Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI)

SAFCEI concerned at Koekerg nuclear power station ‘incidents’ Koeberg released radioactive waste into the environment in three separate incidents years ago. The Citizen, 7 Apr 19, 

The recent revelations by Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan that three separate safety “incidents” had occurred at the Koeberg nuclear power station north of Cape Town in 2014 and 2015 should raise red flags for South African citizens, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) said on Saturday.

“Not only is the executive decision to keep the public in the dark about these incidents problematic, but possible safety issues contradict the South African government’s assertion that nuclear energy is safe, clean, and a solution to climate change,” SAFSEI said in a statement……..

In the SAFCEI statement, Peter Becker of the Koeberg Alert Alliance said, “When something happens at Koeberg, the [NNR] decides whether it should be classed as an ‘incident’ or not. If it is an incident, they need to report on this and the public would be better informed. But, if they deem it to be less than an incident, then they do not need to report on it, and since the public is none the wiser, there would be no public outcry. The question is, how does the NNR decide what to report on and what to omit? And, shouldn’t citizens have some say in what the NNR is obliged to share with them?

“While the NNR’s 2014 annual report does mention ‘minor occurrences’, the 2015 report stated that there were no nuclear incidents reported during that period,” Becker said.

Government and the nuclear industry were “downplaying the dangers associated with nuclear energy production and have concealed incidents from the public”, SAFCEI’s executive director Francesca de Gasparis said in the statement.

“Not alerting the public to nuclear incidents is problematic because it gives a false picture of the realities of nuclear energy production. The issue of access to information, what information is available in the public realm, and who gets to decide what is shared is particularly risky when dealing with this kind of energy production. It makes us ask, once again, whether South Africa needs or wants nuclear energy as a part of its energy future?” De Gasparis said.

– African News Agency (ANA) https://citizen.co.za/news/south-africa/environment/2113171/safcei-concerned-at-koekerg-nuclear-power-station-incidents/

April 8, 2019 Posted by | incidents, South Africa | Leave a comment

Energy expert dismisses Zuma’s nuclear deal comment

https://www.enca.com/news/energy-expert-rubbishes-zumas-nuclear-deal-comment 23 March 2019 – JOHANNESBURG – Former President Jacob Zuma has defended a proposed nuclear energy deal, saying it would’ve solved Eskom’s crisis.

Zuma said the country would have spent trillions over a short period, but it would have been able to make returns.

But energy expert Tobias Bischof-Niemz disagrees with Zuma, saying the process could have taken about ten years, leaving the country in crisis till 2023.

The nuclear project that was in discussion for years stems from the integrated nuclear plan.

“As for that plan, the first reactor would have come online in 2023,” said Bischof-Niemz.

“Even if we had implemented the IRP 2010, the first reactor would come online in four years from now.”

March 25, 2019 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma regime went all out for nuclear power, with secretive manipulations

Necsa’s financial fissures required dealing with the hangover of Zuma’s nuclear push, Daily Maverick, By Marianne Merten• 6 March 2019 

Preparing for the bonanza of a new nuclear build that never came emerged as a key reason for the financial ruptures at the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation Ltd (Necsa), Parliament’s energy committee heard on Tuesday.

The impact of the push of former president Jacob Zuma’s administration for nuclear power was highlighted when the Necsa board and officials briefed MPs on its annual report – tabled months after the statutory September deadline in 2018, with 12 disclaimers and doubts over its status as a going concern.

The Jacob Zuma administration, and going big on nuclear with an extra 9,6 GigaWatts, are inextricably linked since his second term after the 2014 elections. And the opposition of National Treasury to the nuclear deal, widely costed at R1-trillion, is at the heart of the politics of State Capture, including the sacking of finance minister Nhlanhla Nene in December 2015 when he refused to endorse a nuclear deal with Russia.

As recently as 18 February 2019 the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into State Capture heard about the behind-the-scenes machinations when former National Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile confirmed earlier testimony from two former finance ministers he had worked with – Nene, and Pravin Gordhan, who today is public enterprises minister.

At one meeting called to discuss the nuclear deal, Fuzile testified as to how Gordhan insisted that “every rule in the book” would have to be followed if the country were to proceed with a nuclear deal.

“He (Gordhan) told him (Zuma) this was important because failure to do that would turn the arms deal problems into a Sunday school picnic.”

But he added at a later stage: “It would seem that people had other interests.”………

At this stage, it is unclear how the Necsa board intents not only to cut the salary bill, but also turn the SOE’s fortunes around. The board has been given a two-month extension to submit its strategic plan by April 2019.

The reality is that there will be no new nuclear build. In July 2018, on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit, Ramaphosa told Russian President Vladimir Putin there would be no nuclear deal as South Africa could not afford it, as it was widely reported. Feathers were ruffled and smoothed back into place, for now, by all accounts.

But for Necsa, the hangover of the second Zuma administration’s nuclear push must now be dealt with. https://www.dailymaverick.co.za/article/2019-03-06-necsas-financial-fissures-required-dealing-with-the-hangover-of-zumas-nuclear-push/

March 7, 2019 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

No nuclear power future for South Africa

March 7, 2019 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa inquiry hears how former president Jacob Zuma pressed for ‘astronomically expensive’ nuclear deal

#StateCaptureInquiry: ‘If nuclear had proceeded, SA would’ve been in trouble’ https://www.iol.co.za/news/politics/statecaptureinquiry-if-nuclear-had-proceeded-sa-wouldve-been-in-trouble-19365917 18 FEBRUARY 2019, ZINTLE MAHLATI  JOHANNESBURG – Former National Treasury director-general Lungisa Fuzile has corroborated former minister Nhlanhla Nene’s evidence regarding pressure to implement the nuclear deal.

Fuzile returned to the state capture inquiry on Monday to finalise aspects of his testimony.
He told the commission of a meeting with former president Jacob Zuma where the nuclear deal was discussed.
He said Zuma made various comments that were concerning. And even with doubts from Treasury and Nene, there was pressure to go ahead with the deal.
Nene had testified when he appeared last year at the inquiry that the nuclear deal would have cost a lot of money and place massive risk on the country’s fiscus.
“The costs associated with it were astronomical. The envisaged 9.6 GW programme would have constituted the largest investment project in SA history. The investment required would have been estimated at R200 billion for a phased approach,” said Nene.
Fuzile said in a meeting with Zuma on the eve of Nene’s firing, officials from Treasury explained to Zuma and other officials why the project would be a risk yet Cabinet moved to approve the first phase of the deal.
“This was the biggest procurement ever in the history of the country, yet the processes were rushed and some of the stuff that was talked about was not followed. If nuclear had proceeded, this country would have been in trouble. The process that was followed was seriously flawed. There was a brushing aside of the true cost of the project,” said Fuzile.
Zuma commented that Fuzile and former minister Pravin Gordhan had stopped the PetrolSA Engen deal and said it was Treasury’s job to find the money.
Nene had testified that he suspects he was fired because of his objection to the nuclear deal.
Lungisa also touched on the PetroSA deal which did not go through, something Zuma appeared unhappy about.
He also testified about concerns from some board members at South Africa Airways (SAA) about the Airbus deal.
Lungisa also noted the resistance for the removal of former SAA board chair Dudu Myeni. He said it did not make sense why there was so much resistance especially as lenders for SAA did not enjoy working with the SAA board led by Myeni
Lungisa’s testimony was largely focused on corroborating information already provided by Nene and Gordhan when they appeared at the inquiry last year.
The inquiry continues.

February 19, 2019 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Jacob Zuma and corruption

Jacob Zuma given bags stuffed with cash every month for years, inquiry told The Times, 1 Feb 19, A bag stuffed with 300,000 rand in cash — about £17,000 — was delivered to Jacob Zuma when he was South African president every month for years by a corrupt business buying contracts and protection from prosecutors, an inquiry has been told.

The claim was made during extraordinary testimony by a whistleblower from a security company said to have bankrolled the extravagant lifestyles of Mr Zuma and other leading African National Congress (ANC) figures.

Angelo Agrizzi told the Zondo commission investigating South Africa’s biggest post-apartheid scandal that he personally organised much of the cash counting, gift buying and “special services” to Mr Zuma and his acolytes on behalf of a company, Bosasa, in return for state contracts……(Subscribers only) ……https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/south-africa-jacob-zuma-given-bags-stuffed-with-cash-every-month-for-years-inquiry-told-z0cw3n6l0

February 2, 2019 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa. Challenge against removal of nuclear corp. board struck from urgent court roll 

Challenge against removal of nuclear corp. board struck from urgent court roll   https://www.fin24.com/Economy/challenge-against-removal-of-nuclear-corp-board-struck-from-urgent-court-roll-20190118   Jan 18 2019 , Lameez Omarjee, Fin24     

An application challenging the removal of three board members from the Southern African Nuclear Energy Corporation has been stuck from the urgent court roll.

Necsa conducts research and development in the field of nuclear energy, radiation sciences and technology. It is also responsible for uranium enrichment.

In late 2018 Energy Minister Jeff Radebe dissolved the corporation’s board.

At the time Radebe mentioned a mentioned a laundry list of alleged governance failures, including:

  • legislative non-compliance;
  • non-adherence to specific instructions from the department of energy;
  • financial mismanagement;
  • remuneration irregularities;
  • unauthorised international travel; and
  • a memorandum of understanding signed with Russian firm Rosatom despite the minister’s instructions not to.

new board was announced in early December.

Former Necsa board chairperson Dr Kelvin Kemm, the group’s suspended CEO Phumzile Tshelane, and the former chair of the board’s audit and compliance subcommittee, Pamela Bosman, are challenging the minister’s decision.

The North Gauteng High Court was to hear the urgent application on Thursday.

But Judge Daisy Molefe struck it from the roll, given the volume of paperwork lawyers for Radebe had filed, Kemm’s lawyer Douglas Molepo told Fin24 on Friday morning.

For an urgent action to be heard, papers may not exceed 500 pages.

According to Molepo, lawyers for the minister had filed an application of 800 pages. The matter will now be heard at a later date.

At the time of publication, the Department of Energy had not yet responded to Fin24’s request for comment.

  

January 19, 2019 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

‘There should be no nuclear in climate financing’

https://www.dw.com/en/there-should-be-no-nuclear-in-climate-financing/a-4674097813 Jan 19

Prize-winning South African activist Makoma Lekalakala’s successful legal battle to stop a secret nuclear power deal in her homeland won her international acclaim. She tells DW about defending the environment in court.

DW: What have you been campaigning for?

Makoma Lekalakala: My major campaigning issue, it’s mitigation against climate change and with a specific focus on electricity generation in the country [South Africa] — it’s almost 90 percent from coal. And we know that coal is a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, so our campaign has been for a just transition towards a low carbon development.

We’re demanding a greater investment in renewable energy technologies, particularly that we can have a decentralized electricity system where solar and wind would play a major role.

The technology, we need a lot of investment in that so that we can be able to eradicate energy poverty. Local people can have their own socially-owned and community-owned renewable energy projects and co-operatives so that they can have access to electricity.

For us to be able to do that, a just transition for us would mean phasing out coal electricity generation and having no nuclear at all as part of the energy mix, and having wind and solar being increased as part of our energy mix.

Our main mission is for me to ensure that, or to advocate that, there should be no nuclear in climate financing.

Why are you against nuclear power?

Earth Life is an anti-nuclear organization, because we believe that nuclear, it’s not safe. It’s an old technology that comes from the war era and it’s not even safe for us to be able to use for various reasons. It’s not economic, it’s quite expensive, it’s not safe, it’s quite dangerous.

We can remember all the accidents that have taken place, from Fukushima, from Three Mile Island, and nuclear also leaves a legacy of radioactiveness for hundreds and hundreds of years to come.

South Africa has got a principal policy on having an energy mix as part of the energy supply of the country. However, that legislation and regulations imply that if we have an energy mix we should also decide what kind of energy we would want to be part of the mix.

What we have in South Africa, which is written in the legislation, is that the energy choice should be least cost. That is having less externalized costs to the environment, to the atmosphere.

This is not the case around nuclear. And what we’ve seen is that the government also had flouted regulations and legislation by forcing some Africans to accept nuclear power.

Can you tell us more about your legal battle against the controversial secret nuclear power deal between South Africa and Russia? 

In 2015 October, Earth Life Africa filed papers against the state president, against the Department of Energy, against the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, because we felt that these three institutions were supposed to be able to forward the information that was public information. It was suspected that the political elites in the country were actually the drivers of the nuclear deal.

We went to the court based on the legislative and regulatory processes in the country that were flouted, not followed, because all the other agreements were done in secret. That’s how the nuclear industry operates.

So we were vindicated that all the processes in the constitution, our regulations, were not followed at all in favor of the Russians to get to build or to construct the nuclear reactors.

One of the main issues why we opposed, or why we are opposing nuclear energy, is that we don’t want to turn our country, our continent and the world as a radioactive zone where life cannot exist.

What are the main environmental issues in South Africa?

The main environmental issue in South Africa, it’s pollution. As we speak now, South Africans, particularly in hotspot pollution areas, are unable to breathe. In Mpumalanga, where there’s almost about 11 coal-fired power stations and coal mines, this is an area that is very highly polluted and it’s one of the most polluted areas in the world.

Makoma Lekalakala is director of Earthlife Africa’s Johannesburg branch, an environmental non-profit organization. Together with Liziwe McDaid, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize for 2018 for stopping a controversial nuclear power deal between South Africa and Russia.

This interview was conducted by Louise Osborne and edited by Melanie Hall.

January 15, 2019 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

Makoma Lekalakala: ‘There should be no nuclear in climate financing’

https://www.dw.com/en/there-should-be-no-nuclear-in-climate-financing/a-46740978-14 Dec 18, Prize-winning South African activist Makoma Lekalakala’s successful legal battle to stop a secret nuclear power deal in her homeland won her international acclaim. She tells DW about defending the environment in court.

Makoma Lekalakala: My major campaigning issue, it’s mitigation against climate change and with a specific focus on electricity generation in the country [South Africa] — it’s almost 90 percent from coal. And we know that coal is a major contributor of greenhouse gas emissions, so our campaign has been for a just transition towards a low carbon development.

We’re demanding a greater investment in renewable energy technologies, particularly that we can have a decentralized electricity system where solar and wind would play a major role.

The technology, we need a lot of investment in that so that we can be able to eradicate energy poverty. Local people can have their own socially-owned and community-owned renewable energy projects and co-operatives so that they can have access to electricity.

For us to be able to do that, a just transition for us would mean phasing out coal electricity generation and having no nuclear at all as part of the energy mix, and having wind and solar being increased as part of our energy mix.

Our main mission is for me to ensure that, or to advocate that, there should be no nuclear in climate financing.

Why are you against nuclear power?

Earth Life is an anti-nuclear organization, because we believe that nuclear, it’s not safe. It’s an old technology that comes from the war era and it’s not even safe for us to be able to use for various reasons. It’s not economic, it’s quite expensive, it’s not safe, it’s quite dangerous.

We can remember all the accidents that have taken place, from Fukushima, from Three Mile Island, and nuclear also leaves a legacy of radioactiveness for hundreds and hundreds of years to come.

South Africa has got a principal policy on having an energy mix as part of the energy supply of the country. However, that legislation and regulations imply that if we have an energy mix we should also decide what kind of energy we would want to be part of the mix.

What we have in South Africa, which is written in the legislation, is that the energy choice should be least cost. That is having less externalized costs to the environment, to the atmosphere.

This is not the case around nuclear. And what we’ve seen is that the government also had flouted regulations and legislation by forcing some Africans to accept nuclear power.

Can you tell us more about your legal battle against the controversial secret nuclear power deal between South Africa and Russia? 

In 2015 October, Earth Life Africa filed papers against the state president, against the Department of Energy, against the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, because we felt that these three institutions were supposed to be able to forward the information that was public information. It was suspected that the political elites in the country were actually the drivers of the nuclear deal.

We went to the court based on the legislative and regulatory processes in the country that were flouted, not followed, because all the other agreements were done in secret. That’s how the nuclear industry operates.

So we were vindicated that all the processes in the constitution, our regulations, were not followed at all in favor of the Russians to get to build or to construct the nuclear reactors.

One of the main issues why we opposed, or why we are opposing nuclear energy, is that we don’t want to turn our country, our continent and the world as a radioactive zone where life cannot exist.

What are the main environmental issues in South Africa?

The main environmental issue in South Africa, it’s pollution. As we speak now, South Africans, particularly in hotspot pollution areas, are unable to breathe. In Mpumalanga, where there’s almost about 11 coal-fired power stations and coal mines, this is an area that is very highly polluted and it’s one of the most polluted areas in the world.

Makoma Lekalakala is director of Earthlife Africa’s Johannesburg branch, an environmental non-profit organization. Together with Liziwe McDaid, she won the Goldman Environmental Prize for 2018 for stopping a controversial nuclear power deal between South Africa and Russia.

This interview was conducted by Louise Osborne and edited by Melanie Hall.

December 15, 2018 Posted by | climate change, South Africa | Leave a comment

Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) embroiled in dodgy deals, conflicts of interest

Radio-active legacy of Zuptoid nuclear interference – Yelland, BIZ News, By Chris Yelland, 3 Dec 18, Independent reports are being received by EE Publishers that energy minister Jeff Radebe has requested the Necsa board to provide reasons why it should not be removed, and that issues relating the Necsa chairman are central to this matter.

It appears that the issues raised by the minister with the board concern matters of governance, engagements with Russian nuclear interests and possible unauthorised research reactor deals with Russia’s Rusatom, overseas trips by the Necsa chairman, unauthorised media releases, articles and/or communications, and apparent conflicts of interest.

Formal questions have been put to Minister Radebe, to Necsa chairman Dr Kelvin Kemm and to Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane, including a request for confirmation as to whether the reports being received are correct or not……

Necsa is the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa, a state-owned enterprise undertaking R&D and commercial activities in the field of nuclear energy and radiation sciences, and the production of medical nuclear radioisotopes and associated services. Necsa is also responsible for processing source material, including uranium enrichment, and co-operating with other institutions, locally and abroad, on nuclear and related matters.

Apart from its main activities at Pelindaba, near Pretoria in South Africa, which include operation and utilisation of the SAFARI-1 research reactor, Necsa also manages and operates the Vaalputs National Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility in the Northern Cape on behalf of the National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute (NRWDI).

Over the last few years, Necsa has been embroiled in a number of debilitating operational, financial and governance challenges.

As a result of safety procedure lapses, Necsa’s NTP Radioisotopes plant, which produced a significant share of the world’s commercial medical nuclear radioisotope, Molybdenum-99, was shut down by South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) in November 2017, which lasted almost a full year. ………

It was announced in mid-November that the NTP Radioisotopes plant was back in operation after conditional approval to restart was given by South Africa’s National Nuclear Regulator (NNR).

NTP Radioisotopes normally has a revenue of about R1.3bn a year, providing a contribution of more than 50% to the revenue of the Necsa group. The closure of the NTP production plant for a year has therefore obviously had a devastating financial impact.

There are also wider concerns regarding the financial health of Necsa. The Auditor General (AG) has raised ongoing concerns about inadequate financial provisions by Necsa for decommissioning and dismantling (D & D) costs at the end-of-life of Necsa’s SAFARI-1 research reactor.

As a result, Necsa’s annual financial statements for the year ending 31 March 2018, which were due to be published by end September 2018, have still not been tabled.

Note: This article will be updated as further information comes to hand, and/or a response from energy minister Jeff Radebe is received. https://www.biznews.com/thought-leaders/2018/12/03/necsa-board-chairman-ceo-ropes-yelland

December 4, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | 1 Comment

South Africa’s Portfolio Committee on Energy (PCE) praises Nuclear power, glosses over cost, waste, problems

IAfrica 29th Nov 2018 , Yesterday, the Portfolio Committee on Energy (PCE) delivered its report on
the Department of Energy’s (DoE) Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), to Parliament.

According to the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI), Parliament has once again failed to act in the people’s best interest, stating that it found “no persuasive arguments against nuclear”. In the report – which was based on the public hearings on the IRP, held in October – the PCE was in no doubt that “nuclear technology is the cleanest, safest and cheapest technology.”

However, SAFCEI’s Energy Justice Coordinator, Vainola Makan says that during the public hearings, various issues with nuclear, were mentioned. Says Makan, “Over and above the high costs of building a nuclear power plant – which are often marred by delays and related cost overruns – there are further costs associated with maintaining and securing the plant, as well as dealing with waste.”

Makan, who recently held SAFCEI’s People’s Power Learning Fest says, “We are learning that none of the current nuclear waste disposal solutions are real solutions, because the radioactive waste will always be there, and it will always be a risk to all things living in the areas where they are buried. At Koeberg, for example, the concentration of high-level radioactive wastecontinues to increase, and there is still no clear plan for dealing with it.”
https://www.iafrica.com/public-outcry-at-disappointing-energy-planning-report-on-nuclear-to-parliament/

December 3, 2018 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Doubts on future of South Africa’s nuclear research reactors, with glut of medical isotopes, and with particle accelerator production

SA nuclear radio-isotope production facility back in business, but… Money Web, 22 Nov 18

Earlier shutdown resulted in shortages to SA’s government hospitals, global market.

The facility is the main supplier of medical nuclear radio-isotopes such as Molybdenum-99 in Africa, and one of only four such facilities globally. As a result of safety procedure lapses, the plant was shut down in November 2017, which lasted almost a full year. Several attempts had been made in the interim to restart the plant, but without success.

The process of rectifying shortcomings and bringing the operating and safety procedures in line with the requirements of the NNR has been marred by what appears to be conflict between NTP and its parent company, the Necsa……..

The initial shutdown occurred in November 2017 as a result of procedural errors. It appears that calibration of hydrogen sensors, an important component in the safety chain, had not been carried out correctly, and that records were not being kept properly. This was considered to be a critical safety issue, and the plant was shut down by the NNR.

An investigation was held which resulted in the suspension of a number of NTP staff. Following a number of further senior executive and staff replacements, suspensions and reinstatements, Necsa placed its own employees in charge of the plant, who then attempted to rectify the problems and restart the production facility.
………Several incidents occurred which caused restarts to be halted or abandoned. One example that has been cited is the institution of various changes to parameters which were unrelated to the cause of problems. The reasons for Necsa’s actions in this regard are unclear……

following an announcement during the recent Brics Summit in Sandton of a cooperation agreement in the field of nuclear medicine between NTP and Rusatom, the nuclear medical subsidiary of Russian state-owned nuclear company Rosatom, there are some questions as to whether a second or replacement nuclear research reactor will be built.
NTP said that the current global production over-capacity of medical radio-isotopes does not justify a second nuclear research reactor, since the Safari-1 reactor at Pelindaba still has between 15 and 20 years of life, and this could be extended still further. The Safari-1 nuclear reactor produces medical nuclear radio-isotopes by bombarding target plates of low-enriched uranium with neutrons.

Furthermore, medical nuclear radio-isotopes can also be produced by particle accelerators such as cyclotrons, which could make the consDtruction of second or replacement nuclear research reactor unnecessary, the company said.

There are also concerns regarding the financial health of Necsa. The Auditor-General has raised ongoing concerns about inadequate financial provisions by Necsa for decommissioning and dismantling costs for the Safari-1 reactor end-of-life.

As a result, Necsa’s annual financial statements for the year ending March 31, which were due to be published by end September 2018, have still not been tabled. https://www.moneyweb.co.za/news/south-africa/sa-nuclear-radio-isotope-production-facility-back-in-business-but/

November 24, 2018 Posted by | health, South Africa | 3 Comments

South Africa’s Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan’s evidence at the State Capture Commission

I WARNED ZUMA OF NUCLEAR PROCUREMENT IMPLICATIONS, SAYS GORDHAN https://ewn.co.za/2018/11/19/i-warned-zuma-of-nuclear-procurement-implications-says-gordhan

Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan says he advised former President Jacob Zuma that nuclear procurement would be a complex issue. Clement Manyathela 20 Nov 18 JOHANNESBURG – Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has told the state capture commission that former President Jacob Zuma was determined to go ahead with the nuclear build programme despite the reality that the country could not afford it. Gordhan appeared before the inquiry on Monday in Parktown.

His interactions with the Gupta family are among other issues he is expected to deal with.

The minister says he advised Zuma that nuclear procurement would be a complex issue.

“I indicated to the former president that it would be lawful to follow procurement processes for such an expensive process to avoid being marred in scandals such as the arms deal.”

He says he wanted Zuma to be aware of the cost implications.

“I wanted to impress upon the former president that that undertaking, the nuclear procurement, required careful consideration of its costs, choice of supplier and due process.”

Last month, former Finance Minister Nhlanhla Nene told the commission Zuma was so determined to proceed with the nuclear build programme that he showed disregard and no appreciation for the financial ramifications for the country.

Gordhan will continue his testimony on Tuesday.

November 19, 2018 Posted by | legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa: leaked report shows Zuma government’s secret plans for nuclear power

GORDHAN’S LEAKED REPORT DETAILS BEHIND-THE-SCENES PLAN TO PROCURE NUCLEAR ENERGY https://ewn.co.za/2018/11/08/gordhan-s-leaked-report-details-behind-the-scenes-plot-to-procure-nuclear-energy– Lindsay  Dentlinger  9 Nov 18  Former President Jacob Zuma was insistent the country needed to enter into a nuclear deal.   CAPE TOWN – Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan has detailed the behind-the-scenes machinations for government to procure more nuclear energy.

It’s contained in a statement that Gordhan is expected to deliver to the Zondo Commission of Inquiry into state capture next week.

It was leaked to the media overnight.

In it, Gordhan says former President Jacob Zuma was insistent the country needed to enter into a nuclear deal.

As the Finance Minister at the time, Gordhan says he warned Zuma that the process had to be above board to avoid another arms-deal scandal.

Gordhan says it was at a meeting at the presidential residence with Zuma and one of his advisors Senti Thobejane in 2013, that the former president made it clear he wanted South Africa to procure nuclear power.

Gordhan says he was not told ahead of the meeting what would be discussed, but he impressed on Zuma that costs, choice of supplier, due process and likely challenges should all be considered.

He says Treasury raised concerns with a draft agreement with Russia because of the firm fiscal commitments it aimed to enforce.

During his tenure as Finance Minister, Gordhan says Treasury officials insisted that proper evaluations of the true cost of nuclear power, and financial risks to the country be carried out.

He says once he was moved to the portfolio of Cooperative Governance, he was no longer privy to discussions around the nuclear deal.

Gordhan says he was also not present at the Cabinet meeting in December 2015 when the deal was approved.

But he points out that it was on the same day that Zuma announced Gordhan’s successor as Finance Minister, Nhlanhla Nene, would be replaced by Des van Rooyen. A move that sent markets and the local currency into a tailspin and culminated in Gordhan’s reappointment to the post just three days later.

(Edited by Zamangwane Shange)

November 10, 2018 Posted by | secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment