NNR approves the separation of the operating timelines of Koeberg’s nuclear reactors

29th January 2024 By: Rebecca Campbell - Creamer Media Senior Deputy Editor

NNR approves the separation of the operating timelines of Koeberg’s nuclear reactors

The National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) has announced that it has approved the request of national electricity utility Eskom to separate the operational timelines for the two reactors of the Koeberg nuclear power plant (NPP). Koeberg, located on South Africa’s west coast, near Cape Town, is the country’s (and still Africa’s) only operating NPP. (The continent’s second NPP, El Dabaa in Egypt, is still under construction.)

The two reactors were designated Unit 1 and Unit 2. “After completing its safety assessment, the NNR confirmed that the approval of the separation of the units will not impact the safety of the Koeberg nuclear power stations,” reported the regulator, in its press release.

Unit 1, the NNR pointed out, was originally commissioned in July 1984, while Unit 2 was first commissioned some 16 months later, in November 1985. The approval granted by the regulator means that Koeberg’s Unit 1 can now be operated until July 21, 2024, while Unit 2 can be operated until November 9, 2025. These dates are in line with the two reactors’ operational design life.

This approval is quite separate from Eskom’s application for authorisation to extend the life of the NPP (known as “Long-Term Operation”). “The NNR approval to separate the operating life timelines does not imply that the Long-Term Operation application has been approved by the NNR,” stated the regulator.

The NNR was created under Section 3 of the National Nuclear Regulator Act (Act No. 47 of 1999). Its key function is to ensure the safety of people, property and the environment from nuclear damage. It does so through the setting up and maintenance of safety standards and regulatory practices appropriate to South Africa.