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Koeberg incident confirms everything that FF Plus has been saying about nuclear power in South Africa

The recent incident in which the wrong valve was cut at the Koeberg nuclear power station confirms the FF Plus's views on the operation, and oversight, of nuclear power technology in South Africa.

Although nuclear power can no doubt make a valuable contribution to achieving the ideal of carbon-free energy supply, it seems like the country will be safer without it.

The FF Plus stated as far back as 2019 that a power utility that is unable to maintain the relatively simple technology of coal-fired power stations cannot be trusted to manage technology with waste that remains hazardous for centuries.

Reports that there is an exodus of expertise – not just from Eskom, but also from Koeberg in particular – underlines this argument.

Earlier this year, controversy surrounded the dismissal of Mr Peter Becker as a member of the nuclear power regulatory board.

Becker was the civil community representative and was chosen specifically for his sceptical attitude towards this technology. He made waves as the chairperson of the Koeberg Alert Alliance.

He was outspoken and stated that South Africa should rather not use nuclear power, but if that is not possible, every precaution must be taken to make it as safe as possible.

The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy, Gwede Mantashe, initially suspended Becker from the board due to alleged conflict of interests and later permanently dismissed him.

At the time, the FF Plus indicated that the decision will significantly decrease the board's ability to perform proper oversight. After all, the nuclear power regulatory board is supposed to strike a balance between represented interests.

A few weeks ago, it was reported that the interim storage building, where Koeberg's possibly radio-active steam generators must be housed, was not completed in time. The generators were supposed to be stored there while upgrades are done to the power station to extend its life. And now there is the fiasco with the valve.

Unless the institutions tasked with generating and regulating nuclear power can come up with satisfactory plans, South Africa must rather abandon its ambitions to operate such dangerous technology.

 

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