NNR suspends receipt of radioactive waste at Vaalputs

19th April 2012 By: Idéle Esterhuizen

The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) has suspended the receipt of all radioactive waste packages by South Africa’s radioactive waste repository Vaalputs, in the Northern Cape, following the discovery of noncompliance with the waste acceptance criteria set out in its nuclear installation licence.

The noncompliance identified during a NNR routine inspection relates to Vaalputs storing a radioactive waste package from the Koeberg nuclear power plant at a surface contact dose of 2.8 mSv/h, exceeding the maximum permitted surface contact dose rate of 2 mSv/h.

NNR CEO Advocate Boyce Mkhize said in a statement that the suspension would continue until the regulatory requirements and conditions of the nuclear installation licence have been addressed. He added that a detailed schedule of the remedial actions to be undertaken by Vaalputs, as well as an action plan for addressing the noncompliances must be submitted to the NNR for review and approval.

Mkhize indicated that although there was no radiological exposure to workers, the public or the environment, the NNR maintained a preventative approach to mitigating the potential related risks.

“The NNR will ensure that appropriate corrective actions commensurate prior to the lifting of this directive. We will continue to follow up and monitor the situation closely to ensure that all the corrective and approved remedial actions are implemented to prevent the recurrence of this nuclear event,” Mkhize concluded.