The effective implementation of the county's proposed new nuclear power station construction programme would deliver a number of significant benefits to the country, argued South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (better known as Necsa) CEO Phumzile Tshelane on Monday. He was addressing the Nuclear Africa 2013 conference in Midrand.
"A successful new build programme would develop skills, create sustainable jobs, create wealth, especially at a regional level, and develop entrepreneurial skills, especially of the youth," he affirmed. "We're not planning for a turnkey solution."
There are, he pointed out, a number of imperatives for a successful programme. These include clarification on the roles of government, government organisations and the private sector; human resources development; radioactive waste management; emergency preparedness and response; public engagement and a good nuclear regulator. He opined that the National Nuclear Energy Executive Coordination Committee (NNEECC) provided a clear leadership structure at the national level. (The NNEECC is headed by the country's Deputy President.)
However, he cautioned that the establishment of a nuclear infrastructure in the country "was a complex matter requiring many years of preparation". Tshelane quoted International Atomic Energy Agency deputy director-general: nuclear energy Dr Yuri Sokolov, who stated that "[w]hen we talk about infrastructure, we mean a system that provides legal, regulatory, technical, human and industrial support to ensure the effectiveness of the nuclear power programme and ensure that obligations for safety, security and safeguards are met".
Tshelane also warned local industry that it must prepare itself for nuclear localisation. This could be with or without strategic partners, and applied to fields such as engineering and procurement, manufacturing, construction and construction management.