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South Africa – Cabinet appoints critic as member of nuclear regulator board

Cabinet appoints critic as member of nuclear regulator board, IOL, By Mwangi Githahu    26 Apr 21, Cape Town – The government has responded to civil society demands for a public representative on the National Nuclear Regulator’s (NNR) board by appointing one of its most vocal critics, Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) spokesperson Peter Becker.

Spokesperson Phumla Williams said the Cabinet approval of the appointment of Becker and three others would be subject to the verification of qualifications and the relevant clearance……

Last year in response to concerns raised by the KAA, the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (SAFCEI) and other groups, department spokesperson Thandiwe Maimane said Energy Minister Gwede Mantashe had initiated a comprehensive consultative process with Nedlac and Sanco to identify suitable candidates.

Becker said: “The NNR board has been without a representative since August last year and while this announcement is welcome, it is long overdue……….. https://www.iol.co.za/capeargus/news/cabinet-appoints-critic-as-member-of-nuclear-regulator-board-31357be2-1d75-406b-928a-79bf389c97ba

April 27, 2021 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s history of ”state capture” by the nuclear industry

The battle for 2050 energy dominance: Nuclear industry makes its pitch   Mail and Guardian, 14 Apr 21, Moscow The nuclear industry believes it should be able to account for more than 50% of South Africa’s vacant 24 gigawatts of power left behind by the demise of coal in a net-zero 2050 scenario. This was one of the outcomes of a government communications’ panel discussion on alternative future energy sources for South Africa hosted on Wednesday.”’

……………….before returning to instruct the then energy minister, Tina Joemat-Pettersson, to sign a deal with the Russians on the sidelines of the general conference of the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna, Austria.At the same time, Russia’s state-owned nuclear agency, Rosatom, released a statement that it had clinched a deal with South Africa. A legal battle ensued and in 2017, the Western Cape high court ruled that the secret tabling of the intergovernmental agreements with Russia, the US and Korean were unconstitutional and unlawful, and that they be set aside.

A legal battle ensued and in 2017, the Western Cape high court ruled that the secret tabling of the intergovernmental agreements with Russia, the US and Korean were unconstitutional and unlawful, and that they be set aside……….

In 2019 a report by the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace said that Russian engagement with South Africa during the Zuma era was deep rooted and relied on a web of relationships at the highest levels of both governments.

This included the promotion of multibillion-dollar projects involving state-owned companies particularly in the energy sector, and the leveraging of Cold War-era ties forged during South Africa’s period of national liberation.

The researchers linked the significance of the secret deal to a larger problem of state capture.

According to authors Andrew S Weiss and Eugene Rumer: “As early as the autumn of 2011, Zuma told then finance minister Pravin Gordhan that he wanted to award the entire construction deal to Russia. He brushed aside Gordhan’s insistence on following established procedures for state procurement, according to Gordhan’s written testimony to the state capture commission.

“Gordhan warned Zuma that failing to follow the established procedures could land the president in trouble similar to the fallout over the earlier arms-sales scandal that had nearly ended his political career,” the report noted……….


During the presidency of Thabo Mbeki, Eskom explored possibly expanding the Koeberg nuclear power facility but decided in 2008 that the project was unaffordable.

more https://mg.co.za/business/2021-04-14-the-battle-for-2050-energy-dominance-nuclear-industry-makes-its-pitch/

April 15, 2021 Posted by | politics, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa, with no way to deal with radioactive waste, must not develop new nuclear power

March 2, 2021 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

New nuclear build for South Africa would face legal stumbling blocks

Nersa warned nod for nuclear build would face legal stumbling blocks

Court is likely to regard decision to pursue a plant as irrational, regulator told at public hearing, 23 FEBRUARY 2021 – LISA STEYN

Any decision to pursue a 2,500MW nuclear build will likely be seen as irrational and unreasonable if tested in court, the National Energy Regulator of SA (Nersa) heard on Tuesday.  Should the regulator be given the green light for a nuclear build, it would lead to “severe legal complications”, Anton van Dalsen, legal counsellor for the Helen Suzman Foundation, warned Nersa… … (subscribers onlyhttps://www.businesslive.co.za/bd/national/2021-02-23-nersa-warned-nod-for-nuclear-build-would-face-legal-stumbling-blocks/

February 25, 2021 Posted by | Legal, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa: an example of how nuclear waste costs are passed on to later generations

Questions we should therefore all be asking of government, the Department of Energy, the nuclear regulator, Nersa, Nuclear Waste Disposal Institute, Necsa, Eskom and the South African nuclear sector are: 

  • Who should bear the cost of nuclear plant decommissioning and long-term storage and disposal of high-level nuclear waste – the polluter, the customer or the taxpayer? 
  • Where are the real asset-based funds set aside within Eskom and Necsa for future decommissioning and long-term storage and disposal of high-level nuclear waste? 
  • Does the “polluter pays” principle apply in practice, or will the customer and taxpayer end up paying twice through government bailouts? 

One can only guess who may end up bearing the real decommissioning, high-level waste storage, disposal and final repository costs in due course – perhaps not the polluter at all, but our children’s children as taxpayers in the next generation. 

South African taxpayers exposed to high-level nuclear waste disposal and decommissioning liabilities, Daily Maverick, By Chris Yelland• 21 February 2021  

Citizens and taxpayers in South Africa continue to labour under the misguided belief that Eskom and the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa) make real funding provisions monthly, over the operating life of their nuclear reactors, to cover the costs of decommissioning and disposal of high-level nuclear waste from their nuclear plants, in terms of the ‘polluter pays’ principle.

Page 69 of the 8th National Report prepared by the Department of Energy and the SA National Nuclear Regulator,  and presented to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) in August 2019 in terms of South Africa’s obligations  to the Convention on Nuclear Safety, states in respect of Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power station:

“Financial provision for decommissioning (as well as spent fuel management) continues to be accumulated on a monthly basis since commercial operation of the installation began in 1984. The financial provision is reflected in the annual financial statements of Eskom. These financial statements are audited in accordance with South African national legislation.

“In terms of decommissioning financial plans, the amount of decommissioning and spent fuel provision made each month is determined by the present value of future estimated cash flows. These financial plans are reviewed regularly and adjusted annually, and informed by the South African inflation rate.”

However, the problem with these fine words to the IAEA is that they are misleading, perhaps deliberately so, and that the so-called provision is actually something of a “Potemkin village” to placate and impress the IAEA and the public that all is well and under control.

In fact, no real money, securities or investments of any kind have actually been set aside monthly, annually or at stage and in any fund during operation of South Africa’s nuclear facilities as provision for decommissioning, long-term storage and final disposal of high-level nuclear waste, and/or the construction and operation of a high-level nuclear waste repository.

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February 22, 2021 Posted by | South Africa, wastes | Leave a comment

South Africa’s President Cyril Ramaphosa omits mention of nuclear in his State of the Nation Address

Experts speculate on meaning of Ramaphosa’s nuclear omission in SONA https://www.iol.co.za/capeargus/news/experts-speculate-on-meaning-of-ramaphosas-nuclear-omission-in-sona-fe6bd6f4-15da-496d-88b7-0009b080661c

By Mwangi 15 Feb 21, Githahu Cape Town – Energy experts and commentators are speculating on the the significance of the omission of any mention of nuclear energy by President Cyril Ramaphosa in his State of the Nation address, with one suggesting this might be a sign that the government may have dropped its commitment to the nuclear power option.

In his speech on Thursday night, Ramaphosa said: “The fourth priority intervention of the recovery plan is to rapidly expand energy-generation capacity.

“Over the last year, we have taken action to urgently and substantially increase generation capacity in addition to what Eskom generates. The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) will soon be announcing the successful bids for 2 000 megawatts of emergency power.

“Government will soon be initiating the procurement of an additional 11 800 megawatts of power from renewable energy, natural gas, battery storage and coal in line with the Integrated Resource Plan 2019.”

Mark Swilling, Distinguished Professor of sustainable development at the School of Public Leadership, Stellenbosch University, said: “It is significant that nuclear wasn’t mentioned. It’s not like government forgot about nuclear.

“The DMRE has after all been pushing nuclear power very hard. What is more likely is that the department failed to get its way, and that can only be a good thing, as nuclear is expensive and risky, especially when there are cheaper alternatives.

“What the president announced is a very good start, but not enough. Instead of the procurement of an additional 11 800 megawatts, what we need is at least 20 000MW if we are to be free of load shedding by 2025.

“There is a problem if the 11 800 includes coal because it’s not as though you can build a new coal mine. Nobody is funding them anymore. Around the world even new coal stations are shutting down. The 11 800MW should be strictly from renewables.”

Executive director of the Southern African Faith Communities’ Environment Institute (Safcei), Francesca de Gasparis, said: “The president’s speech was silent on nuclear power, yet we know from recent developments that the government has been pushing on with its nuclear plans, despite more nuclear not being needed and being one of the most costly electricity generation options.

“In terms of the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP), which lays out our energy choices, this risky and outdated technology is not even identified as a necessary part of the solution to the country’s ongoing energy crisis. Renewable energy is significantly quicker to install and a more cost-effective choice.”

The Climate Justice Charter Movement lobby group said in a statement: “The economic recovery plan calls for more off-shore extraction of oil and gas. If the president is serious about the climate crisis he would make it clear that nuclear energy plans are also off the national agenda. In this context, we would have taken his climate change commission more seriously.”

February 15, 2021 Posted by | politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s Koeberg Nuclear Power Station has suffered severe corrosion

Koeberg has suffered substantial damage, according to Koeberg Alert Alliance. (with audio)   https://www.capetalk.co.za/articles/408514/koeberg-nuclear-power-station-radioactivity-containment-building-is-severely-damaged?fbclid=IwAR1HSyt2Tw6lrsbwJxlEQW5m4i4YT18_Hl0MgVzEQV0f24h31btTVN150g4   Eskom says the containment building is ‘leak-tight’.


RELATED: We’ll extend Koeberg lifespan from 40 to 60 years. It’ll be safe – Eskom


Koeberg Nuclear Power Station has suffered substantial damage to its containment building, according to Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA).

The containment building is designed to contain the escape of radioactive steam or gas in an emergency.

A nuclear accident at Koeberg will have devastating consequences for hundreds of thousands of people who live close nearby.

Eskom says it is aware of “deterioration” and that it is managing the issue by implementing a modification.

Like all other nuclear power plants around the world, we do get deterioration… We’re managing this issue… Recent tests show… It’s leak-tight. The building works…

Riedewaan Bakardien, Chief Nuclear Officer – Eskom

Sea air has severely damaged the concrete structure, highlighting the significant risk the facility poses to nearby residents, according to KAA.

A concerned insider at Koeberg brought the alarming structural problems to the attention of KAA.

The insider informed KAA of a crack so large it goes right around the entire 110-metre circumference of the containment dome.

The community group says it is struggling to access information from Eskom about the damaged containment dome.

KAA claims that a 31-page Eskom report (about the damage), has eleven pages entirely blacked out while various other sections, photos and tables were censored because, claims Eskom, it contained “sensitive technical information”.

Lester Kiewit interviewed Peter Becker, a spokesperson for KAA.

The salt in the sea air… has caused accelerated rust in the rebar in the concrete of the containment structures… which caused cracking… About 10% of the surface of the containment building has delaminated [split into layers] …

Peter Becker, spokesperson – Koeberg Alert Alliance

Eskom blacked out about half of the report before releasing it to us…

Peter Becker, spokesperson – Koeberg Alert Alliance

Eskom is surprised by the speed at which it’s deteriorating… Koeberg was not well constructed, and the effect of sea-air was not well understood.

Peter Becker, spokesperson – Koeberg Alert Alliance

Koeberg is far too close to densely populated areas. If they tried to get approval to build it in that location today, it would be refused…

Peter Becker, spokesperson – Koeberg Alert Alliance

Koeberg was designed to last for 40 years… We get to that in 2024… but Eskom wants to keep it going. It’s a really bad idea…

Peter Becker, spokesperson – Koeberg Alert AllianceThis problem will remain. We’re implementing a modification… which will retard the deterioration.

Riedewaan Bakardien, Chief Nuclear Officer – Eskom

It’s the building around the reactor. Yes, there is corrosion… We’re well aware of it…

Riedewaan Bakardien, Chief Nuclear Officer – Eskom

February 15, 2021 Posted by | safety, South Africa | Leave a comment

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station containment buildings damaged by prolonged exposure to sea air

Koeberg Nuclear Power Station containment buildings suffer damage, ESI Africa, Feb 12, 2021   A recently released Eskom document has revealed that 40 years of exposure to sea air at Koeberg Nuclear Power Station has damaged the concrete of the containment buildings, according to Koeberg Alert Alliance.

At one stage the concrete containment dome was found to have cracked around the entire 110-meter circumference, states the Koeberg Alert Alliance.

“The containment buildings are the outer shells of the reactor buildings, built as pressure vessels to withstand the pressure if the reactors inside them ever malfunction and therefore prevent harmful radiation being leaked into the environment,” says DR, a member of Koeberg Alert Alliance and a retired analytical chemist.

“Where the chloride salts have entered, they have caused corrosion of the reinforcing steel bars, resulting in spalling and delamination of the concrete – it is even more alarming than I thought,” he says. Spalling results from water entering concrete which forces the surface to peel, pop out, or flake off. ……..

According to the Koeberg Alert Alliance, the provided 31-page report which refers to repairs done up until 2018, has eleven pages entirely blacked out and various other sections, photos and tables redacted with the reason given as “sensitive technical information”.

“The interesting parts are clearly those that have been redacted,” says University of Johannesburg Physics Professor, Hartmut Winkler. “The first big redact is titled History/Background and presumably describes past failures and recent damage that Koeberg Alert Alliance’s PAIA was interrogating. Why should the ‘History’ be sensitive due to technical information when the less redacted sections are full of technical details.

“The most puzzling redact to me are the references which are supposed to be publicly available documents, so why are they all being hidden? Do they expose some entities that Eskom does not want anyone to know have been involved with Koeberg and why? I would also query why the financial information would be redacted. Surely the public has a right to know how much money certain components cost, and what Eskom paid for them?” says Winkler.

This is a developing story, ESI Africa will do a follow up to give Eskom an opportunity to respond to the claims. https://www.esi-africa.com/industry-sectors/generation/koeberg-nuclear-power-station-containment-buildings-suffer-damage/

February 13, 2021 Posted by | incidents, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa’s new nuclear power plan would be a costly mistake

 

February 5, 2021 Posted by | business and costs, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa the only country to have nuclear weapons, then abandon them

January 21, 2021 Posted by | Reference, South Africa, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Ten compelling reasons to stay away from nuclear power 

January 9, 2021 Posted by | opposition to nuclear, South Africa | Leave a comment

NuScam pushing to sell its ”small” nuclear reactors to South Africa

S. Africa Regulator to Consider Approving Nuclear Power Plan,  Bloomberg, By Antony Sguazzin,10 November 2020,
    •  Program envisages addition of 2,500 megawatts of atomic power
    •  Country’s renewable-energy lobby opposes expansion of industry

The National Energy Regulator of South Africa will on Nov. 11 consider approving the procurement of 2,500 megawatts of nuclear power, marking another step toward the expansion of the industry.

The regulator will consider approving a so-called section 34 determination for the program, which enables the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to undertake a bidding process for private producers to build nuclear-power facilities, it said in a Twitter posting outlining the agenda for the meeting.

South Africa, which destroyed its atomic weapons prior to the end of apartheid, already operates Africa’s only nuclear-power plant, the 1,800 megawatt Koeberg facility in Cape Town, as well as the Pelindaba research facility north of Johannesburg.

While the expansion of nuclear power has the support of the ministry and labor unions, it’s opposed by environmentalists and backers of the country’s expanding renewable-energy program.

NuScale Power LLC, a U.S. nuclear-energy firm, has said it will propose small, modular reactors for installation in South Africa. The U.S. International Development Finance Corp. has announced that it will support a bid by NuScale, approving the procurement of 2,500 megawatts of nuclear power, marking another step toward the expansion of the industry.

The regulator will consider approving a so-called section 34 determination for the program, which enables the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy to undertake a bidding process for private producers to build nuclear-power facilities, it said in a Twitter posting outlining the agenda for the meeting.

South Africa, which destroyed its atomic weapons prior to the end of apartheid, already operates Africa’s only nuclear-power plant, the 1,800 megawatt Koeberg facility in Cape Town, as well as the Pelindaba research facility north of Johannesburg.

While the expansion of nuclear power has the support of the ministry and labor unions, it’s opposed by environmentalists and backers of the country’s expanding renewable-energy program.  https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-11-09/south-african-regulator-to-consider-approving-nuclear-power-plan

November 10, 2020 Posted by | marketing, South Africa | Leave a comment

Covid-19 divides and weakens the nuclear sector in South Africa

November 7, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, health, politics, South Africa | Leave a comment

Trump’s USA is pushing NuScale’s small nuclear reactors for South Africa

The US nuclear company with an eye on South Africa  just got a R23 billion boost, courtesy of Donald Trump, https://www.businessinsider.co.za/nuscale-nuclear-which-has-plans-for-sa-gets-a-big-us-subsidy-to-test-its-design-2020-10    Phillip de Wet , Business Insider SA Oct 22, 2020, 

  • American nuclear energy company NuScale has been citing Cape Town as an example of an ideal customer for its still-theoretical generators.
  • It has now received in-principle financial support from the American government to build a nuclear power station in South Africa.
  • NuScale’s pathfinder project for its new technology, in Idaho, just got a promise of an infusion of US government cash worth some R23 billion.
  • While South Africa abandoned plans to create next-generation PBMR systems, the administration of Donald Trump has pushed small-scale nuclear development.

NuScale, a company with roots in US-funded research, this week received assurances that the American government will provide up to $1.4 billion (around R23 billion) in subsidies for a 12-module reactor it hopes to start building in Idaho by 2025.

The project is a commercial one, with municipal buyers lined up for the electricity, but the cash from the US department of energy is intended to bring the cost of that electricity down to $55 per MWh on a levelised cost of energy (LCOE) basis, making the project at least vaguely competitive with other forms of power generation.

Without the subsidies, the supposedly once-off cost of building a first-of-its kind power station would make the NuScale project commercially unviable, its planned customers say.

Just how once-off such costs are, and how much money the US government ends up actually spending on the project, will be closely watched in South Africa

Last week the US International Development Finance Corporation (DFC) announced it had signed a letter of intent to support NuScale “to develop 2,500 MW of nuclear energy in South Africa”.

NuScale has cited Cape Town as a purely theoretical customer for a 12-module version of its nuclear energy system, saying that such an installation could desalinate enough water to keep the entire city going.

But the 2,500MW number cited by the DFC suggests its South African ambitions are substantial. That is the full generating capability the South African government now envisages adding to the national grid from nuclear stations – but the government plan calls for a mixture of the conventional pressurised water reactors (PWRs) such as Russia’s Rosatom sells, and the type of small modular reactors (SMRs) NuScale is developing.

By seeking development finance for the full 2,500MW, NuScale appears to be signalling a plan to bid for the whole thing, rather than seeking to build only part of a new set of nuclear generators in SA alongside companies from China or elsewhere.

That matches the aggressive posture of the US government under the administration of Donald Trump. The DFC letter of intent is the first time the organisation has supported any nuclear project; a ban on its involvement in nuclear energy was lifted on the recommendation of a working group formed by the White House.

The state funding for the NuScale project in the US, meanwhile, comes after consistent and determined efforts under Trump’s presidency to “revitalise” nuclear energy in America, both in production and through research and development on next-generation systems.

South Africa, though determined to buy new nuclear power stations, has not had a similar political appetite to invest in research. In 2010 it mothballed work on the pebble bed modular reactor, a project launched in the late 1990s to create a safe, small, modular reactor system for both domestic use and sale abroad.

Russia once thought it had a done deal to build new nuclear reactors in South Africa. Half a decade later, thanks to its sheer political weight, China seems to be a serious contender for the job. Both France and South Korea have, at various points, been in the running too.

But as of this week, an American company with no track record of actually building commerical nuclear reactors yet is lining up the kind of money from the US government that could make its plans for South Africa viable – replacing a dream of home-grown next-generation nuclear with an imported version.

As of this year there are still vague plans to revive the project, in one form or another, but even if those were to succeed, the pace of development would have to be improbably fast for it to have any place in South Africa’s current round of explorations.

October 24, 2020 Posted by | marketing, Small Modular Nuclear Reactors, South Africa | Leave a comment

South Africa the first sucker to get American experimental nuclear reactor + $billions in bribes?

October 19, 2020 Posted by | marketing, South Africa, technology, USA | Leave a comment