IAEA completes safety review of South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear plant

April 4, 2022, 7:13AMNuclear News
The Koeberg nuclear power plant, near Cape Town, South Africa. (Photo: Eskom)

An International Atomic Energy Agency team of experts has completed its review of the long-term operational safety of South Africa’s Koeberg nuclear power plant, which is operated by the public utility Eskom.

The Safety Aspects of Long-Term Operation (SALTO) review mission, which had been requested by the South African Department of Mineral Resources and Energy, was carried out from March 22 to March 31.

Koeberg’s Unit 1 began commercial operation in 1984, and Unit 2 in 1985. Each unit is a 930-MWe Framatome two-loop pressurized water reactor. Eskom plans to extend the operation of both units by 20 years—to 2045—for a total operational lifetime of 60 years each. The plant is undergoing the review to identify safety improvements for the long-term operation period.

Team leader Gabor Petofi, senior nuclear safety officer at the IAEA, summarized the review. “We observed that staff at the plant is professional, open, and receptive to suggestions for improvement,” he said. “Despite challenges, the plant has eliminated several deviations from IAEA Safety Standards in aging management activities and preparation for safe long-term operation identified during the Pre-SALTO mission in 2019.”

Key findings: The 10-member SALTO team identified the following good practices and good performances at the plant:

  • The plant integrated a corrective action program to extensively consider operating experience for long-term operation.
  • The plant used a template to collect vitally important parameters from the original equipment manufacturers to establish the extended qualified life of electrical components.
  • The plant applied the so-called capability index to characterize health, attitude, and other enablers of staff members to assess if they are fit to perform a task.

Recommendations: The SALTO team recommended the following actions for Eskom to take:

  • Comprehensively review and implement all plant programs relevant for long-term operation.
  • Complete the revalidation of qualification of cables in the containment for the long-term operation period.
  • Ensure full functionality of the containment structure monitoring system.

Eskom’s planning strategy: “We appreciate the IAEA support in plant aging management and preparation for safe long-term operation,” said Riedewaan Bakardien, Eskom’s chief nuclear officer. “The long-term operation of the Koeberg nuclear power plant up to 2045 is a vital part of Eskom’s energy planning strategy. The results of this mission will help us finalize our activities for safe long-term operation in alignment with IAEA Safety Standards.”

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