The recent incident when a faulty valve at the Koeberg nuclear power plant was switched off, confirms the FF Plus’ views on the operation of, and overview of, nuclear power in South Africa.
While it is recognized that nuclear power can make an important contribution to achieving carbon-neutral energy supply, the country appears to be safer without it.
Already in 2019, the FF Plus stated that a power supplier who can not even maintain the relatively simple technology of coal-fired power stations, can not be trusted with technology whose waste has been dangerous for centuries.
Reports that there is an exodus of knowledgeable staff – not only at Eskom in general, but at Koeberg in particular, underline this warning.
Earlier this year, there was controversy surrounding the removal of Mr. Peter Becker as a member of the governing body on nuclear power.
Becker represented the civil society and was nominated precisely because of his skeptical attitude towards this technology. He attracted the attention of the chairman of the Koeberg Alert Alliance.
He said that South Africa should not generate nuclear power, but if it was unavoidable, everything possible should be done to make it safe.
The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Mr. Gwede Mantashe suspended Becker due to an alleged conflict of interest and later permanently removed him from the council.
At that stage, the FF Plus indicated that this step weakens the council’s ability to thoroughly review. The governing body on nuclear power must in fact represent a balanced representation of interests.
A few weeks ago, the news followed that temporary storage space for Koeberg’s possibly radioactive steam boilers had not been completed in time. It would be kept there while refurbishment work is being done at the power plant to extend its life. Now it’s the fiasco with a valve.
Unless the institutions that are to generate and regulate nuclear power come up with satisfactory plans, South Africa should rather abandon its ambitions to operate such dangerous technology.