South Africa Not Fit for Nuclear Expansion

From Mail & Guardian

South Africa’s ambitious plans have far to go before six new nuclear power stations can be rolled out. This has emerged from the government’s own assessment of the country’s readiness to embark on nuclear fleet procurement.

Draft documents, dated late last year and seen by the Mail & Guardian, appear to be part of the government’s preliminary preparations for an integrated nuclear infrastructure review, an assessment guide developed by the International Atomic Energy Agency to aid countries embarking on a nuclear power programme.

The review covers 19 infrastructure issues over three phases that a country should address. They include the government’s position on its commitment to develop nuclear energy, safety, management, legislation, funding and financing, safeguards, regulatory framework, radiation protection, human resource development, environmental protection, emergency planning, security and physical protection, radioactive waste and procurement.

The draft documents identify many gaps relating to these issues and questions over funding and skills feature prominently.

Regarding nuclear safety, one of the gaps identified was sufficient numbers of qualified staff “with appropriate education, training and retaining [sic]” for safety-related activities at each nuclear installation throughout its life.

Although the Cabinet recently named Eskom as the owner and operator of any future nuclear power stations, an appropriate funding solution for the power utility was identified as a problem in the draft documents.

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