Oct 11, 2012
Concerns raised over proposed Necsa Pelindaba smelterBack
Johannesburg|Pretoria|Energy|South African Nuclear Energy Corporation|Systems|Necsa Smelter|Electricity Usage|Energy|Filter Systems|Metal|Systems|Transportation|Uranium-contaminated Scrap Metal|Environmental|Judith Taylor|Robert Garbett|Van Zyl De Villiers|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
Other Electricity News
The use of biofuels, as a renewable-energy source, presents the potential for numerous environmental, energy security and efficiency benefits to the South African economy, says law firm ENSafrica senior associate environmental law division senior associate Andrew...
Recent Research Reports
Steel 2014: A review of South Africa's steel sector (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s Steel 2014 report provides an overview of 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 steel and stainless...
Projects in Progress 2014 - First Edition (PDF Report)
This publication contains insight into progress at the delayed Medupi and Kusile coal-fired projects, in Mpumalanga and Limpopo respectively, as well as at the Ingula pumped-storage scheme, which is under construction on the border between the Free State and...
Automotive 2014: A review of South Africa's automotive sector (PDF Report)
The report provides insight into the business environment, the key participants in the sector, local construction demand, geographic diversification, competition within the sector, corporate activity, skills, safety, environmental considerations and the challenges...
Construction 2014: A review of South Africa's construction sector (PDF Report)
Construction data released during 2013 hints at a halt to the decline in the industry during the last few years, with some commentators averring that the industry could be poised for recovery. However, others have urged caution, noting that the prospects for a...
Electricity 2014: A Review of South Africa's Electricity Sector (PDF Report)
This report provides an overview of the state of electricity generation and transmission in South Africa and examines electricity planning, investment in generation capacity, electricity tariffs, the role of independent power producers and demand-focused initiatives,...
Defence 2013: A review of South Africa's defence industry (PDF Report)
Creamer Media’s 2013 Defence Report examines South Africa’s defence industry, with particular focus on the key players in the sector, the innovations that have come out of the defence sector, local and export demand, South Africa’s controversial...
This Week's Magazine
The Electronic Systems Laboratory (ESL) of the Department of Electrical and Electronic Engineering at Stellenbosch University is strongly reaffirming its position as one of South Africa’s leading centres for satellite technology and expertise. It is currently...
The world’s lowest-cost diesel-electric locomotive is not made in China, but in Pretoria, at RRL Grindrod Locomotives’ newly upgraded 30 000 m2 plant. The company’s locomotive pricing is “more competitive than any other original-equipment manufacturer (OEM)...
The South African Defence Review 2012, released to the public at the end of last month (despite the year given in its title) recommends the creation of the post of Chief Defence Scientist. This official would be responsible for the management of defence technology...
AltX-listed engineering technology company Ansys has been awarded an R188-million contract by Transnet to supply integrated dashboard display systems to the freight rail utility’s locomotives. Black-owned and controlled Ansys developed the bespoke integrated system...
South Africa’s sole nuclear power station Koeberg, which is located in the Western Cape, breached a major operations milestone on April 4, which marked the thirtieth anniversary of Unit 1 having been connected to the grid. Eskom, which operates the two-unit plant,...