Consulting firm SRK Consulting is currently assisting the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) Company at the Koeberg nuclear power station, located about 30 km north of Cape Town. This assignment involves a six-year groundwater monitoring project and an integrated stormwater management project at the site of the proposed PBMR demonstration power plant.
Nuclear power and associated environmental issues are currently attracting considerable attention in South Africa. Over the past three years, SRK has been involved in significant national initiatives in terms of its projects on many of these issues for several major clients.
In terms of nuclear power, SRK Con-sulting’s Western Cape partner and prin- cipal hydro geologist, Peter Rosewarne, and SRK project manager Derry Holme have been managing the site safety report for State-owned power utility Eskom, which will support the licence application for greenfield and brownfield sites for the development of new nuclear power plants.
This multimillion-rand project involves a large team of technical specialists that include those from other SRK offices and other
independent consulting companies.
Besides project management, SRK is
responsible for investigating site technical aspects.
A separate environmental-impact assessment process is running in parallel to assess the environmental suitability of sites for the establishment of new nuclear power plants. SRK is responsible for producing specialist study reports on aspects such as geotechnics, geohydrology and hydrology.
Global sentiment towards nuclear power generation has changed over the past few years because it emits less greenhouse gases than other power generation technologies.
“Several countries, such as those in the UK, France and the US are revisiting nuclear power as the way forward. “There are a number of nuclear power stations currently being built and many on order around the world. “The UK recently published a list of candidate sites for consideration for new nuclear power stations,” says Rosewarne.
To reflect this trend, South Africa is hosting an international conference on effective nuclear regulatory systems under the auspices of the International Atomic Energy Agency and the National Nuclear Regulator, in Cape Town, in December 2009.
Meanwhile, in terms of mining, the company’s Cape Town office has worked with SRK North America and the Gauteng-based mining team on a definitive feasibility study for world energy company Areva, investigating the Ryst Kuil uranium prospect, near Beaufort West, in the Western Cape. This is a low-grade uranium deposit extending over about 120 km. It is expected that the mine will consist mainly of underground workings.
In this project, SRK Cape Town, part of the South African-founded global group of consulting engineers and scientists, has been looking at groundwater supply, the impacts of mining on groundwater levels and quality, the potential inflows into mine workings and the control of inflows. They have also installed a groundwater monitoring network to assess groundwater levels and quality and responses to environmental factors.