Cape Town - The Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) and the Southern African Faith Communities Environment Institute (Safcei), together with concerned Capetonians gathered on Bloubergstrand Beach for an anti-nuclear protest to question the safety of the nearby nuclear plant operated by Eskom.
The protesters’ chants of “down with nuclear” came as Eskom tries to extend the Koeberg plant’s operating life by another 20 years, after its initial 40-year lifespan ends in 2024, despite numerous challenges and safety concerns at the plant.
Safcei executive director Francesca de Gasparis said Eskom had been quiet about its plans for South Africa’s only nuclear power plant and have not provided information about this process or given the public sufficient evidence that it was safe and in the interests of electricity users to extend the lifespan of the ageing nuclear plant.
Ubuntu Rural Women and Youth Movement member Vainola Makan said: “We are certain that because of the lack of access to information and the lack of transparency, only private business individuals will benefit from this deal and the interests of citizens is of no concern.”
KAA spokesperson Peter Becker called on Eskom to shut down the Koeberg nuclear power plant as planned in 2024, and stop their attempts to extend its designed lifespan, especially with the old engineering and increasing problems at the plant.
However, the electricity supplier was adamant about the extension of the plant’s lifespan.
“Eskom is confident that the extension of Koeberg power plant operation by an additional 20 years will be done safely and according to the best international nuclear safety standard and world best practices. Koeberg nuclear power plant has a robust maintenance and repair programme on par with the world's best and its nuclear safety record is among the best in the world,” said Eskom.
Eskom said their project to design, manufacture and install the replacement of six steam generators for Koeberg unit 1 and unit 2 was now well under way, and the installation was planned for 2022.
“Eskom claims that the work will take six and a half months per reactor unit, which means in the best case, Koeberg will be at half capacity for all of 2022. This will result in unnecessary load shedding, at a huge cost to the economy,” said Becker.
National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) spokesperson Gino Moonsamy said Eskom’s application would be undergoing a detailed review process in which the NNR would direct Eskom to publish the application for comment in local newspapers and serve notification letters to stakeholders.
Moonsamy said only after the NNR considered the insights and representations from public consultation, would they finalise the decision on the application and announce the decision on whether the plant would be able to operate beyond its current licensing basis.