'Limited water reserves could put power system at risk'

The power giant's hydro pumps are being used to compensate for the shutdown.

FILE: Eskom is warning that limited water reserves may put the power system at risk later in the week. Picture: EPA.

JOHANNESBURG - As South Africans brace themselves for the possibility of more load shedding, Eskom is warning that limited water reserves may put the power system at risk later in the week.

A coal silo collapsed at the Majuba Power Station in Mpumalanga at the weekend resulting in rolling blackouts.

The power giant's hydro pumps are being used to compensate for the shutdown but by Wednesday, their water reserves may be depleted.

In September, Gauteng experienced major water cuts, because of copper cable theft that led to problems at a substation providing power to water pumps.

While water cuts are not on the cards, a lack of water at the pumps may put the electricity system under pressure again later this week.

Eskom's Andrew Etzinger says the utility is trying to ensure the lights stay on.

"If we continue heavy usage of the hydro pumps then they may not be available."

COAL SILO COLLAPSE UNEXPECTED

Eskom has denied having any advanced knowledge of structural issues at Majuba and says the coal silo collapse was completely unexpected.

Concerns have been raised about why the massive concrete silo came down.

According to Eskom, the silo collapse is the second of its kind globally with only one other incident in Germany.

But trade union Solidarity says the utility was well aware of structural problems and the silo was already showing signs of deterioration since January.

Etzinger says this isn't the case.

"Structural assessments were done in 2013 and at the time, there were no anomalies identified at the silo."

Meanwhile, technicians are investigating the reasons behind the silo collapse to ensure the same doesn't happen at other power stations.