Review of Koeberg extension plans completed by IAEA team

31 March 2022

The ten experts focused on aspects essential to safe Long Term Operation (LTO) of the two units at South Africa's nuclear power plant - operator Eskom wants to extend their lives by 20 years to 2045, which will give a total operational lifetime of 60 years.

The Koeberg units began commercial operation in 1984 and 1985 (Image: Eskom)

The plant is currently carrying out a review to identify safety measures for the LTO period.

The International Atomic Energy Agency's (IAEA's) Safety Aspects of Long Term Operation (SALTO) review mission took place from 22-31 March, at the request of South Africa's Department of Mineral Resources and Energy and reviewed the plant’s preparedness, organisation and programmes for safe LTO.

Team leader Gabor Petofi, senior nuclear safety officer at the IAEA, said staff were "professional, open and receptive to suggestions for improvement - despite challenges, the plant has eliminated several deviations from IAEA Safety Standards in ageing management activities and preparation for safe LTO identified during the Pre-SALTO mission in 2019."

He added: "The SALTO team encourages Eskom and the plant management to address further findings made by this latest mission and to implement all remaining activities for safe LTO."

"We appreciate the IAEA support in plant ageing management and preparation for safe LTO," said Riedewaan Bakardien, Eskom's chief nuclear officer, adding that "the results of this mission will help us finalise our activities for safe LTO in alignment with IAEA Safety Standards."

The team identified good practices that could be shared with the industry globally, such as integrating a corrective action programme to extensively consider operating experience for LTO and using a template to collect information from the original equipment manufacturers to establish the extended qualified life of electrical components.

Recommendations and suggestions included to "comprehensively review and implement all plant programmes relevant for LTO, complete the revalidation of qualification of cables in the containment for the LTO period and ensure full functionality of the containment structure monitoring system."

A draft report, from what was the 50th IAEA SALTO mission, was given to the plant management at the end of the visit, for comment, with a final report to be submitted to them and the regulator and the South African government within three months.

The IAEA mission began four days after it was announced that the CEO of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR), Mzubanzi Bismark Tyobeka, was resigning "to pursue his profession elsewhere", after more than eight years in the post, with the NNR board saying he had "played a critical role" in the regulator's "development, growth and success".

Researched and written by World Nuclear News