Oct 11, 2012
Concerns raised over proposed Necsa Pelindaba smelterBack
Johannesburg|Pretoria|Africa|Aviation|Building|Health|Installation|Nuclear|South African Nuclear Energy Corporation|Storage|Systems|Waste|Waste Management|Africa|Necsa Smelter|Electricity Usage|Energy|Filter Systems|Metal|Nuclear|Services|Systems|Transportation|Uranium-contaminated Scrap Metal|Environmental|Judith Taylor|Robert Garbett|Van Zyl De Villiers|Waste|Scrap Metal|Radiation
© Reuse this
The public hearing, in Pretoria, was held by the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) to receive comment on the proposed Necsa smelter, which would process 14 000 t of uranium-contaminated scrap metal, presently stored on the Pelindaba site.
The greater portion of this metal consists of about 36 000 separate elements which, in accordance with nonproliferation agreements, should be destroyed completely.
Necsa regards smelting as the most appropriate and cost-effective method to achieve this and has applied to the NNR for a nuclear installation licence to build a smelter for this purpose.
“The advantage of having the smelter at the Pelindaba site is that the smelter would be hosted in an already existing building, the same complex as the low-to-medium waste storage facility, which reduces transportation and handling of the waste,” said Necsa’s Dr Van Zyl de Villiers.
Further, he pointed out that there was already an existing stack, with the necessary ventilation and filter systems in place, including high efficiency particle arresting (Hepa) filters.
“The emphasis of this smelter is on appropriate and responsible waste management and control, and specifically the reduction of waste volumes. The reduction of waste varieties and volumes is a great concern across the international nuclear industry,” he said.
De Villiers could not state what the associated costs or electricity usage would be with the implementation of the new smelter.
But Earthlife Africa branch coordinator for Johannesburg, Judith Taylor, said it would be reckless to add to radiation levels in the atmosphere, adding that the smelter would have “critical” health implications.
Professional Aviation Services MD Robert Garbett also said that a smelter could hold “serious health hazards” for people working at Pelindaba or living in the surrounding areas.
Garbett said Necsa’s 2012 Stack Initiatives public information document stated that it was estimated that emissions of smoke, impurities and soot would only amount to about 5 kg/y. “That is 50 kg over a ten-year period and is minute particles that can cover vast distances. The Hepa filter is the only thing that keeps the harmful emissions from the smelting process between the facility and the surrounding air,” he said.
Garbett said there would inevitably be dangerous emissions from the stacks in the form of radiation, which could be inhaled and ingested by humans and animals, and later effect crops. “This will lead to cancer and a number of birth defects in the future,” he noted.
The NNR board, which presided over the meeting, would now take into consideration the presentations that were made at the meeting and would deliver its judgment on the approval of the smelter in the near future.
Edited by: Mariaan Webb© Reuse this Comment Guidelines (150 word limit)
Other Regulation News
Article contains comments
Article contains comments
Article contains comments
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2015: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2015 report provides an overview of the key developments in the global steel industry and particularly of South Africa’s steel sector over the past year, including details of production and consumption, as well as the country's primary carbon...
Projects in Progress 2015 - First Edition (PDF Report)
In fact, this edition of Creamer Media’s Projects in Progress 2015 supplement tracks developments taking place under the Renewable Energy Independent Power Producer Procurement Programme, which has had four bidding rounds. It appears to remain a shining light on the...
Electricity 2015: A review of South Africa's electricity sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Electricity 2015 report provides an overview of State-owned power utility Eskom and independent power producers, as well as electricity planning, transmission, distribution and the theft thereof, besides other issues.
Construction 2015: A review of South Africa’s construction sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Construction 2015 Report examines South Africa’s construction industry over the past 12 months. The report provides insight into the business environment; the key participants in the sector; local construction demand; geographic diversification;...
Liquid Fuels 2014 - A review of South Africa's Liquid Fuels sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Liquid Fuels 2014 Report examines these issues, focusing on the business environment, oil and gas exploration, the country’s feedstock supplies, the development of South Africa’s biofuels industry, fuel pricing, competition in the sector, the...
Water 2014: A review of South Africa's water sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Water 2014 report considers the aforementioned issues, not only in the South African context, but also in the African and global context, and examines the issues of water and sanitation, water quality and the demand for water, among others.
This Week's Magazine
While economic forecasts for the African continent are most favourable, African airlines may not be able to benefit from the expected growth in the region’s gross domestic product (GDP), International Air Transport Association VP: Africa Raphael Kuuchi has warned....
The Automotive Production and Development Programme (APDP) will need to change substantially post 2020, says Metair Investments South African operations COO Ken Lello. “We must not make tweaks. We have to change. What we are doing is not sustainable.”
Banking group Absa’s forecast is for the rand to end the year at around R13 against the dollar, weakening further to R13.50 by 2016, says Absa sectoral analyst Jacques du Toit. He warns that possible interest rate hikes in the US may see capital being pulled from...
The Dispute Resolution Centre at the Bargaining Council for the Civil Engineering Industry (BCCEI) is now open to handle party-to-party disputes. The BCCEI represents the interests of all level four to nine Construction Industry Development Board companies.
Communications technology firm Ericsson sub-Saharan Africa head Fredrik Jejdling says the company’s commitment to sustainability and corporate responsibility has been integrated into all facets of its operations, which has provided it with sustainable revenue...