South Africa launches radwaste agency

04 April 2014

The National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute (NRWDI) has been formally launched by South Africa's energy minister. It will be responsible for the management and disposal of the country's radioactive waste.

South Africa's National Radioactive Waste Disposal Act of 2008 mandated that a national agency for dealing with the country's waste should be established. This legislation was adopted by parliament in January 2009.

LLW disposal at Vaalputs 250 (Necsa)
Low-level waste disposal at Vaalputs
(Image: Necsa)

South African energy minister Dikobe Ben Martins officially launched the new agency in Pretoria on 31 March. In addition to managing the country's radioactive wastes generated through its use of nuclear energy, the NRWDI will also dispose of radioactive sources used in medical and industrial applications.

A national repository for low- and intermediate-level wastes has been operated by South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) at Vaalputs in the Northern Cape province. This was commissioned in 1986 for wastes from the Koeberg nuclear power plant and is financed by fees paid by utility Eskom. Operation of the Vaalputs repository has now been transferred from Necsa to NRWDI.

Used nuclear fuel is currently stored at Koeberg while some wastes from hospitals, industry and Necsa itself is disposed of at Necsa's Pelindaba site.

The NRWDI will be responsible for the design, construction, operation, management and monitoring of any new radioactive waste disposal facilities.

The energy ministry said, "This is an important step forward for the country, in view of the fact that the Institute may now formally engage in making concrete plans for the management, interim storage and disposal of all the high-level wastes that are currently temporarily stored at facilities at Koeberg and Pelindaba."

Researched and written
by World Nuclear News