18 October 2012
The South African government will use an upcoming International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) review of the country’s nuclear infrastructure to help assess its readiness for a nuclear build, says the Department of Energy.
South Africa’s Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010-30 outlines the country’s intention to add 9 600 megawatts of nuclear energy to its energy mix by 2030. The IRP is SA’s 20-year plan for balancing electricity production and consumption.
“As the country implements the IRP, government has taken the initiative to assess its readiness for the nuclear new build programme of the country by using the IAEA milestone approach called the Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR),” the Department of Energy said in a statement on Wednesday.
The IAEA will conduct the INIR mission in February.
‘Not an external audit’
The department stressed that while this would be an independent and objective review, it was not intended to be an external audit of South Africa’s national infrastructure.
“Rather, it describes the sequential development through the three phases for each of 19 milestones,” the department said. The “milestones” include safety, legislation, funding and financing, and radiation protection. As a member of the IAEA, South Africa is obliged to meet these milestones.
An IAEA team conducted a three-day workshop in Pretoria this week to provide comment on SA’s self-evaluation report, as well as to define the scope, work plan and logistical arrangements for February’s mission.
The workshop was attended by representatives from the Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA, Eskom, the National Nuclear Regulator, and the departments of energy and public enterprises, all of whom form part of the National Nuclear Energy Executive Coordination Committee that has developed a self-evaluation report for the country.
Deputy President Kgalema Motlanthe leads the committee, which acts as the national decision-making body regarding the country’s nuclear programme.
In June, the National Nuclear Regulator said that South Africa’s nuclear installations could withstand natural events. This followed an assessment of reports from stakeholders which aimed to identify vulnerabilities in the design of the country’s facilities and identify any modifications that needed to be made.