An International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (Pre-Salto) team of experts on 11 September completed a review of long term operational safety at the Koeberg nuclear power plant in South Africa. 

The two unit Koeberg plant, South Africa’s only nuclear plant, is operated by public utility Eskom. Koeberg 1 went into commercial operation in 1984 and Koeberg 2 in 1985. Eskom is planning to extend operation of both units by 20 years and the plant is currently carrying out a Periodic Safety Review to identify safety improvements for the Long Term Operation period.

The Salto team found staff to be professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement. “We observed that despite many challenges and delays, the plant has made progress in ageing management activities and preparation for safe LTO since the first Pre-Salto mission in 2015,” said team leader Robert Krivanek, a Senior Nuclear Safety Officer at the IAEA. 

The review team - comprising ten international experts from Belgium, Brazil, the Czech Republic, Japan, France, Romania, Sweden, UK, USA and two IAEA staff members - also identified good performances that will be shared with the nuclear industry globally, including:

A water chemistry programme implemented in line with IAEA safety standards, supporting ageing management for safe LTO;A surveillance programme to monitor reactor vessel embrittlement under operation for all relevant plant conditions, including LTO;The use of a simulator of mechanical, electrical, chemistry and radiation protection processes to improve staff performance and plant safety.

The team made recommendations for further enhancing preparations for LTO safety, including that Eskom should:

Empower plant management and staff with all necessary mandates and processes, including adequate resources to achieve safe LTO in a timely manner;Adequately plan and implement impressed current cathodic protection of the reactor containment, including tests with a mock-up to further improve corrosion prevention;Develop and implement a knowledge management programme.

“We appreciate IAEA support of our plant in ageing management and preparation for safe LTO,” commented Riedewaan Bakardien, Eskom`s Chief Nuclear Officer. “The LTO of Koeberg NPP up to 2045 is a vital part of Eskom`s energy planning strategy. The results of this mission will help us to finalise our activities for safe LTO in alignment with IAEA safety standards.” 

The plant management added that it was committed to implementing the IAEA recommendations and requested another Salto mission to Koeberg in September 2021. A final report will be submitted to the plant management, the National Nuclear Regulator and the Government of South Africa within three months.

Photo: Koeberg nuclear plant

Date: Tuesday, 24 September 2019
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