Home economic sector Atomic energy agency concludes inspection at Eskom’s Koeberg station

Atomic energy agency concludes inspection at Eskom’s Koeberg station


The International Atomic Energy Agency has concluded its inspection of the safety aspects of Eskom’s Long-term operation plan that aims to increase the Koeberg plant life by 20 years.

Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power plant in the Western Cape. Picture: Henk Kruger/Cape Argus

THE INTERNATIONAL Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) has completed its safety inspection of Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power plant in the Western Cape, which aims to increase its lifespan by another 20 years.

The IAEA team, which consisted of 10 international nuclear experts from across eight countries, reviewed Eskom’s safety measures around the two-decade long extension period, according to a statement on Tuesday.

The organisation looked at ageing management of mechanical, electrical, and civil systems, structures and components, knowledge management and human resources at Eskom.

The inspection was conducted from March 22 to March 31. A final report on the inspection will be delivered to the South African government in three months.

Leader of the project, Gabor Petofi, said Koeberg staff were professional, among other things, and welcomed suggestions for improvement.

Petofi and his team also found areas where they felt Eskom could improve in its long-term plan.

These included a thorough review and implementation of all plant programmes relevant for long-term operation, completing the revalidation of qualification for cables in the containment for the long-term operation period and ensuring functionality of the containment structure monitoring system.

IAEA also identified good practices at the ailing power utility which they plan to share globally with the nuclear community.

“We observed that despite many challenges the plant has made progress in ageing management activities and preparation for safe LTO since the first pre-Salto (safety aspects of the long-term operation) mission in 2015,” Petofi said.

“The Salto team encourages Eskom and the plant management to address findings made by them and to implement all remaining activities for safe LTO,” he said.

Riedewaan Bakardien, Eskom’s chief nuclear officer, said it will be treating all recommendations with urgency.

“What was particularly pleasing to note in this 2022 review is the feedback from the IAEA that Koeberg has made significant improvements and have closed the gaps identified during the pre-Salto missions.

“There has been significant progress on the LTO, and today we are well set on the path to extending Koeberg’s life. We commit that we will attend to the recommendations and suggestions that came out of this IAEA mission,” Bakardien said.

Chief of nuclear safety and technology for the department of Energy and Minerals, Katse Maphoto, said the peer review conducted by the IAEA will go a long way in solidifying Koeberg’s long-term plan.

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