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20 July 2011

Nuclear disaster plan ‘adequate’

SAFE: Energy Minister Dipuo Peters says the government has a national nuclear disaster management plan in place. Picture: FINANCIAL MAIL

Energy Minister says there is an adequate emergency plan  in place to deal with potential disasters at the Koeberg nuclear power plant and the Pelindaba research reactor.

CAPE TOWN — An adequate emergency plan is in place to deal with potential disasters at the Koeberg nuclear power plant and the Pelindaba research reactor, Energy Minister Dipuo Peters said in Parliament yesterday.

The minister reaffirmed the assurances she has given several times since the Fukushima nuclear disaster in Japan which led several countries to reconsider their nuclear strategies.

Ms Peters was responding to concerns raised by African Christian Democratic Party MP Cheryllyn Dudley in a parliamentary question on whether the Department of Energy was prepared to deal with the effects of an earthquake, or tsunami and radiation leakage in light of the recent increase in earthquakes worldwide and the fact that the Koeberg plant was situated alongside the Milnerton fault line.

Ms Peters said the government had a national nuclear disaster management plan which detailed how a nuclear emergency was to be handled both at Koeberg and Pelindaba. These plans were tested regularly to check the response of the different players for example, the operator and local and national authorities.

"Koeberg, as originally designed and subsequently modified by Eskom, is in line with modern international safety standards and also has defence-in-depth measures that are relevant to its location. Following the accident at Fukushima, Eskom performed the necessary tests to verify the capability of all equipment required to respond to severe and beyond design basis accidents."

Ms Peters said Koeberg was designed to withstand an earthquake of level 7 on the Richter Scale; it had a terrace height 8m above the mean sea level; was supplied by four 400kV lines and one 132kV line connected to the national grid in addition to having a dedicated power station should supply from the grid fail. Koeberg was equipped to facilitate the addition of cooling water to spent fuel pools and containment buildings should this be required. "An emergency plan is in place. It has been tested and found to be adequate," she said.

Ms Peters said the National Nuclear Regulator of SA had found the safety situation at Koeberg to be acceptable in the main and the Fukushima incident had not led to any change in the government’s energy mix proposed in the integrated resource plan.

Nuclear energy provides the most reliable base-load power after coal. "SA is yet to reach universal access to electricity services. In order to achieve this milestone and to provide the necessary power to support economic development, we need to build more base-load power stations."

- Business Day

SAWDIS: Thanks, Jakes for providing the link!  I personally feel that the minister should divulge further information regarding the national nuclear disaster management plan which details how a nuclear emergency was to be handled both at Koeberg and Pelindaba.  Does the public that lives near these facilities know what to do in the event of a nuclear disaster?  It would be interesting to know if our readers that live near Koeberg knows what this emergency plan entails.  Maybe our readers can share the plan with the SAWDIS.  If you have information on this emergency plan please send details to the SAWDIS by clicking HERE.