South African electricity utility Eskom has spent about R1-billion since 2005 in upgrading safety at its Koeberg nuclear power plant, CEO Brian Dames said on Monday.
As a result, Koeberg’s core damage frequency probability was now the same as that for new built plants. The nuclear plant also now has four independent power supplies, including diesel generators and a dedicated 132 kV back-up power line.
In terms of radiation dose emitted by Koeberg, measured in microSieverts, the international standard is 1 000, but the National Nuclear Regulator allows 250 microSieverts. For the past few years, Koeberg's emissions have been just 5 microSieverts.
Regarding the country's proposed future new nuclear power plants, Dames warned that if the first of these was to enter service in 2023 the decision needed to be made soon. If not this year, then early next year, he said, adding that a lot of skills and infrastructure had to be developed.
Dames was speaking at the National Union of Mineworkers' Nuclear Energy Workshop, in Midrand, north of Johannesburg.