Oct 11, 2012
Concerns raised over proposed Necsa Pelindaba smelterBack
Aviation|Johannesburg|Pretoria|Africa|Energy|Nuclear|South African Nuclear Energy Corporation|Systems|Waste|Africa|Necsa Smelter|Electricity Usage|Energy|Filter Systems|Metal|Nuclear|Systems|Transportation|Uranium-contaminated Scrap Metal|Waste Management|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 Electricity News
Article contains comments
Article contains comments
Updated 1 hour 1 minute ago Changes had to be made in South Africa’s water and sanitation sector to ensure challenges were resolved effectively, as well as to fast-track the country’s socioeconomic transformation, Water and Sanitation Minister Nomvula Mokonyane told delegates at the 2014...
Updated 1 hour 18 minutes ago Steel producer ArcelorMittal South Africa (AMSA) has confirmed that the reline project at its Newcastle mill, in KwaZulu-Natal, has hit snags and that the project, which was initially expected to be completed four months after the May 12 shutdown began, will be...
Updated 1 hour 37 minutes ago The World Trade Organization failed on Thursday to reach a deal to standardise customs rules, which would have been the first global trade reform in two decades but was blocked by India's demands for concessions on agricultural stockpiling. "We have not been able to...
Recent Research Reports
Real Economy Year Book 2014 (PDF Report)
This edition drills down into the performance and outlook for a variety of sectors, including automotive, construction, electricity, transport, steel, water, coal, gold, iron-ore and platinum.
Real Economy Insight: Automotive 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the automotive industry over the past 12 months, including an overview of South Africa’s automotive market, trade figures, production and the policies influencing the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Construction 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the construction industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the sector and includes details of employment in the sector, infrastructure and municipal spending, as well as insight into companies’...
Real Economy Insight: Electricity 2014 (PDF Report)
This five-page brief covers key developments in the electricity industry over the past 12 months, including details of State-owned power utility Eskom’s generation activities, funding and tariffs, independent power producers and prospects for the sector.
Real Economy Insight: Road and Rail 2014 (PDF Report)
This six-page brief covers key developments in the road and rail industries over the past 12 months, including details of South Africa’s road and rail network and prospects for both sectors.
Real Economy Insight: Steel 2014 (PDF Report)
This four-page brief covers key developments in the steel industry over the past 12 months. It provides an overview of the global and South African steel and stainless steel markets, South Africa’s major steel producers and events that have shaped these markets.
This Week's Magazine
South African construction company Group Five says work on the rehabilitation of the 800 km stretch of the Plumtree–Mutare highway, in Zimbabwe, should be completed by the end of this year. Giving evidence before the Parliamentary Porfolio Committee on Transport...
The Space Operations division of the South African National Space Agency (Sansa) revealed on July 17 that it had supported the successful launch of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration’s Orbiting Carbon Observatory-2 (OCO-2) satellite on July 2. The...
Phase 1A of Johannesburg’s Rea Vaya bus rapid transit (BRT) system should carry around 42 000 people a day, while it was been expected that Phase 1B, rolled out last year, would add another 60 000 daily passengers. However, the entire system is currently carrying...
A stormwater project in Bedforview, east of Johannesburg, has stalled for eight months after project managers in the Ekurhuleni municipality resigned and municipal managers were placed on special leave without designating replacements. Construction to reinforce the...
The design of the Beit Bridge border post is the biggest impediment to efficient freight movement between Zimbabwe and South Africa, says Cross-border Road Transport Agency CEO Sipho Khumalo. Beit Bridge is the busiest border post in Africa. A research study on the...