SA’s Nuclear Installations Can Withstand Natural Events
ALTHOUGH South Africa can learn from Japan’s Fukushima incident, the country’s nuclear installations can withstand natural events, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) has revealed. Following an assessment of reports from Eskom and the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) – which aimed to identify vulnerabilities in the design of facilities as well as identify necessary modifications to be implemented where needed – Chief Executive Officer Advocate Boyce Mkhize said valuable lessons were to be learnt from the March 2011 incident.
Japan’s Fukushima No.1 nuclear power plant was crippled by an earthquake and the resultant tsunami that struck the Pacific coastal areas of Japan, forced the country to raise the severity level of the accident at the facility to seven, the worst on an international scale.
Following the incident, the NNR instructed both Eskom and Necsa to conduct safety re-assessment reports of their nuclear plants, namely Koeberg and the Necsa-owned reactor in Pelindaba. The NNR received the reports from both entities in December last year. A lesson to be learnt from the Fukushima disaster was that hardened on-site emergency response centres with ample provisions for communication were necessary and more robust emergency arrangements should be designed.
The regulator said it was necessary to factor in issues of possible natural hazards. It was found that the NNRs regulatory standards and practices are in-line with internationally accepted standards and practises. However, Mkhize added that areas for strengthening the regulatory regime were identified. These would be addressed as part of the current review of the Regulatory Standards and Practices.
It was also recommended that the country perform a full self-assessment of all emergency planning and response infrastructures using the Atomic Energy Agency’s (AEA) Emergency Preparedness Review.