Extending Koeberg’s operating life irresponsible, says energy expert

The operating licence for the nuclear plant, which was built in the 1970s, is expected to expire in 2024 but there are plans to extend its lifespan until 2044.

Eskom's Koeberg nuclear power station in Cape Town, South Africa. © hijackhippo/123rf.com

JOHANNESBURG - With Eskom on the verge of beginning its massive overhaul to extend the operating life of the Koeberg nuclear power station by 20 years, energy expert Ted Blom has questioned its safety.

The operating licence for the nuclear plant, which was built in the 1970s, is expected to expire in 2024 but there are plans to extend its lifespan until 2044.

Blom said that retrofitting the Koeberg power station was more likely to provoke a catastrophe than preserve energy.

Blom said that Eskom’s intention to extend the life of Koeberg past its planned closure date was irresponsible and argued that the nuclear plant should instead be decommissioned.

“So, you’re going to try and upgrade something you don’t know what’s inside the plant. Doing an overhaul is a massive job. There’s a whole lot of legacy issues that worry me about this so-called refurbishment,” Blom said.

According to Blom, a large part of the concern about Koeberg stems from the lack of transparency about the refurbishing of the aging nuclear power plant and how it will affect anyone living near the plant if it’s not handled with care.

“The fact of the matter, it is dangerous, people’s lives are at risk, and we know the compliance of Koeberg is in a shambles,” he said.

Eskom has maintained that it is complying with all requirements set out in the legislation with regard to extending the life of the power station.

Next month, the power utility will switch off one of two reactors to begin the mass overhaul.