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NNR highlights the transparency of its recent nuclear emergency exercise in Cape Town

10th November 2022

By: Rebecca Campbell

Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

     

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The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) issued a press release on Thursday, highlighting the wide range of stakeholders who observed the full-scale nuclear emergency exercise at the Koeberg nuclear power plant (NPP) on November 4. This exercise was conducted to evaluate the nuclear emergency response systems of both Eskom (the owner and operator of the NPP) and the City of Cape Town’s Disaster Operations Centre and other agencies.

“The NNR conducts regulatory nuclear emergency exercises periodically at Necsa Pelindaba and the Koeberg nuclear power station to ensure the effectiveness of the emergency response plans and the ability to ensure the safety of the public and the environment,” explained NNR emergency response and preparedness manager Mothusi Ramerafe. “We use these exercises to review and evaluate the effectiveness of the NNR authorisation holders’ emergency management system as part of our regulatory oversight.”

“This full-scale exercise was an excellent opportunity for Koeberg and emergency response organisations in the City of Cape Town to practice their emergency response plans and procedures,” highlighted NNR CEO (Ms) Ditebogo Kgomo. “Exercises like this help ensure all parties know their roles when it comes to protecting the public and the environment in the highly unlikely event of a nuclear emergency. Lessons learned from the 4 November 2022 exercise will be used to address any identified weaknesses and improve the collective response to a nuclear emergency at Koeberg.”

The stakeholders who observed the exercise included representatives of three other nuclear regulatory bodies. These were the Egyptian Atomic Energy Authority, the Ghana Atomic Energy Commission and the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission. Another international participant was the Radiological and Nuclear Terrorism Prevention Unit of Interpol France.

South African observers were drawn from both the public and non-governmental organisation (NGO) sectors, plus the media. The public sector entities were the national Department of Forestry, Fisheries and the Environment, the Interpol National Central Bureau South Africa, and two other national regulatory agencies, namely the Civil Aviation Authority and the Railway Safety Regulator. NNR board members also observed the exercise. The NGO observers came from the Koeberg Alert Alliance, the Koeberg Public Safety Information Forum, the Organisation Undoing Tax Abuse, and the South African Faith Communities Institute.

It will still be some weeks before the NNR completely processes all the data and observations gathered by itself and the other observers and draws up its comprehensive report on the exercise and any weaknesses that it revealed.

Edited by Creamer Media Reporter

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