Cape Town - Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA) has raised concerns regarding Eskom’s application to extend their current operating licence of the Koeberg nuclear power plant with the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) after recent reports announced that a contract was already secured by the US company Jacobs Engineering Group.
Jacobs was recently selected to carry out essential engineering modifications as part of a R20 billion programme to extend the operating life of the Koeberg by about 20 years, from 40 to 60 years. The project is in preparation for the installation of six replacement steam generators at the two-reactor plant operated by Eskom.
KAA spokesperson Lydia Petersen said the fact that this contract was announced before the NNR had indicated they received the life extension application from Eskom, was deeply concerning, as they were mandated to protect the public.
“Koeberg is operated by Eskom, under a licence from the NNR, which expires in July 2024. In order to operate beyond that date, Eskom needs the approval of the NNR for the life extension, and a new licence to be granted.
“This licensing process requires a public participation process, which the NNR is obliged to take into account before making a decision,” said Petersen.
Petersen said their concerns were based on the fact that the public learned about this contract through the media, without the NNR giving any notice for comments from the public on the extension of Koeberg’s operating licence.
“A similar scenario played out with the now infamous Karpowership saga. It was first announced in the media as a done deal, even though the necessary approvals had not been granted,” said Petersen.
Responding to this, NNR spokesperson Gino Moonsamy confirmed receipt of an application made by Eskom to operate the Koeberg nuclear power station beyond the current licensing, and said the application was accepted for further processing, but that no decision has yet been made.
Eskom said Koeberg’s life extension programme was subject to strict organisational and regulatory nuclear safety guidelines that were internationally benchmarked.
“Based on the engineering analysis for the steam generator replacement, a number of hardware modifications on the Balance of Plant will also need to be undertaken, and Eskom, therefore, appointed General Electric (GE) to perform these hardware changes. GE has subsequently sub-contracted part of the Balance of Plant hardware changes to Jacobs Engineering,” said Eskom.