Necsa ready for South African new build

24 July 2015

Necsa is ready to support South Africa's nuclear new build program using its existing capacities, the national nuclear corporation's leader has told the country's main parliamentary oversight committee.

The Portfolio Committee on Energy tours the Pelindaba site (Image: Necsa)

Necsa CEO Phumzile Tshelane made his comments to the Portfolio Committee on Energy during a visit by committee members to the company's Pelindaba site to assess the company's readiness for the nuclear new build program. Tshelane told the committee that Necsa possesses "nuclear standard manufacturing capabilities" and would support localization to help ensure that the country's proposed new build program would result in the development of a domestic nuclear industry.

"We are proud of the contribution we are already making in developing critical skills for South Africa, which will also be relevant to the new build program," Tshelane said. He also said that Necsa had undertaken feasibility studies on the production and supply of nuclear fuel to South Africa's new reactors, to ensure that the country could be "self-sufficient" rather than depending on overseas suppliers. The committee said it welcomed the localization aspect of the program, which its members said would create employment opportunities and contribute to skills development.

Portfolio committees are appointed from members of South Africa's National Assembly to shadow the work of government departments. As well as dealing with departmental budget votes, they are tasked with overseeing the work of the department they are responsible for, and may enquire and make recommendations about any aspect of that department, including its structure, functioning and policy. As a state-owned company, Necsa - the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation - comes under the Portfolio Committee for Energy's oversight remit.

South Africa plans to build 9600 MWe of new nuclear capacity, aiming for the first new unit to come on line by 2023. To date, intergovernmental agreements have been signed with several vendor countries that have expressed interest in its nuclear new build program - China, France, Russia, South Korea and the USA. Negotiations on agreements are also underway with Canada and Japan. The South African energy ministry intends to launch the procurement process by the end of this month and select a strategic partner or partners by the end of the year.

Committee chairman Fikile Majola said that the South African government needed to "speak openly" about the nuclear new build program. The committee called for a national discussion on the procurement process behind the program, with members of parliament engaging with relevant stakeholders. "We need to remove the secrecy surrounding the build program and have a public discourse on this issue," he said.

During its Pelindaba visit the committee viewed Necsa's nuclear skills development centre and nuclear manufacturing centre as well as its nuclear medicine and fluorine plants.

Necsa is responsible for undertaking and promoting R&D in the field of nuclear energy and radiation sciences, as well as for processing source material, including uranium enrichment, and co-operating with other institutions, locally and abroad, on nuclear and related matters. It operates the Safari-1 research reactor and also manages and operates the Vaalputs National Radioactive Waste Disposal Facility on behalf of the National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute. It supplies radiation-based products, including medical radioisotopes, and fluorine and fluorine-based products through wholly-owned commercial subsidiaries NTP Radioisotopes and Pelchem.

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News