Category Archives: DoE

Necsa now embroiled in nuclear waste row

Carol Paton, BDLive, 28 January, 2016.

THE Nuclear Energy Corporation of SA (Necsa) is in a protracted battle with the auditor-general over who is responsible for the cost of decommissioning and decontaminating used nuclear material.

Necsa is arguing that it cannot be expected to take on the full burden.

(Contributor note: At last, pressure to internalise costs, let’s hope the AG can make it stick!)

Calculating the cost of decommissioning and funding it is a critical issue in the management of nuclear energy and one over which there is much contention internationally between operators, regulators and governments.

It will be a major issue for SA’s forthcoming nuclear build programme.

Decommissioning and decontamination costs are expected to be Necsa’s major expense in the future and should be reflected as a contingent liability on its balance sheet. These relate in large part to SA’s old weapons programme during apartheid days, but also to the current activities at Necsa.

The matter is one of several holding up the finalisation of Necsa’s annual financial statements for 2015, which are now four months overdue.

Read the whole article…

Secrets and Lies: Beware the dangers of South Africa’s new nuclear age

ISMAIL LAGARDIEN in the Daily Maverick, 6 January, 2016.

(And a view from the other side, what we have to keep an eye on)

Every state that has embarked on a nuclear energy build has sought to ring-fence information. Justification for this has always rested on notions of national security, and found expression in an insidious censorship across sectors, especially in the media and academia. In some places this has resulted to unprecedented calamities for communities and the environment. We must avoid the belief that it cannot happen in South Africa…

… The Cabinet decision to go ahead with the procurement programme to provide South Africa with 9.6GW of nuclear poweris, arguably, the boldest statement that the government has made about the country’s future. It might, also, be the most ill-conceived construction project of the democratic era. Herein lies the danger for the country. Forget, for a moment, the human and environmental impact of nuclear power, as opposed to coal or renewables, and consider two vital problems that have beset almost all nuclear builds around the world: the secrecy and lies that mark nuclear-build projects from their inception, and the extremely high-levels of skills that are required to build power-stations (and eventually operate them).

Read more…

Despite fears, nuclear option should be on the table

Ivo Vegter in the Daily Maverick, 6 January, 2016.

(A contrary view, as could be expected, but note the 2013 date on the Gazette note.)

The very word sparks fear into the hearts of many, and the likely price tag scares everyone else. Despite this, however, South Africa could really use the nuclear procurement package that cabinet sneakily gazetted just before Christmas last year.

Between people worried about safety, people suspicious of corruption, people worried about the economics, the government can find little support for its nuclear procurement programme. Perhaps that is why it quietly gazetted a brief notice approving the procurement of 9,600MW worth of nuclear energy plants on 21 December 2015, while everyone was distracted by the holidays.

It had been signed two years ago, on 11 November 2013, by the former minister of energy, Ben Martins, and the former chairperson of the National Energy Regulator of South Africa, Cecilia Khuzwayo. This notice gave the go-ahead for procuring 9,600MW worth of nuclear energy plants under the aegis of the Department of Energy (and not Eskom).

There are major concerns over this plan. Some of them, like fears about nuclear safety or not-in-my-backyardism, are not valid. Others, about the cost of megaprojects, the economics of nuclear power, and the state of South Africa’s finances, are rather more to the point. Corporate finance specialist DIrk de Vos made the financial case against nuclear in a recent opinion article for Daily Maverick.

Read more…

Nuclear site near Jeffrey’s Bay to get green light (maybe?)

News24 Wire, 21 December,2015.

(Note: Don’t read this if you are anti-nuclear and have suffer from high blood pressure or depression! And don’t feel you have to believe it all either.))
The 6-year long environmental impact assessment for a new nuclear plant to be built at Thyspunt near Oyster Bay, a few kilometres South of Jeffrey’s Bay, has just been completed.
With cabinet having allegedly approved the nuclear procurement programme this month, the next step will be to give the green light to the environmental impact assessment of the Thyspunt site near Jeffreys Bay.

Dr Kelvin Kemm, who serves on the ministerial Advisory Council on Energy, says this process has been completed and the next step is government approval, which could come quite soon.

Kemm gave this update in his opinion piece below, which touches on the local economic benefits for Port Elizabeth, why South Africa needs nuclear energy and the safety issues around the programme. – Fin24.

Here is the rest of this blatant pro-nuclear spin…–

Cabinet quietly endorses nuclear deal, but ….

Engineering News, 15 December, 2015.

FINANCE Minister Pravin Gordhan confirmed on Monday that a decision was taken by the Cabinet in its meeting last week to start the nuclear procurement programme.

This opens the path for the Department of Energy to call for proposals to provide 9.6GW of nuclear power without first doing a cost-benefit analysis.

But Mr Gordhan was adamant on Monday the procurement would go head only if it was “affordable”.

Full article…