Earthquakes and Nuclear

As South Africa contemplates building nuclear power stations along the coast, consultants from GIBB have been given the job of assessing the potential impacts of doing this.  This includes looking at the risks.

Photograph of crack in road in Ceres caused by earthquake

Damage in Ceres from 1969 quake

One obvious risk is that of an earthquake damaging the nuclear reactor, as happened in 2011 in Fukushima.  To assess this risk, GIBB produced a specialist report in 2011 (i.e. done before Fukushima) titled “Appendix E4: Seismic Risk Assessment”.

This report was of a very poor scientific standard, and when we pointed this out GIBB wrote back to us “these reports are based on the seismic hazard analysis done prior to 2004” and agreed that “the PSHA [Probabalistic Seismic Hazard Analysis] needs to be redone using a different methodology”.

South Africa has had several severe earthquakes, such as in Ceres in 1969, in the North West in 2014, and most concerning for the Koeberg Nuclear station, the Milnerton quake of 1809.

At the public participation meeting in Kenilworth on 13 October 2015, GIBB consultants were a little evasive about the progress on redoing the seismic risk report, as you can hear in this recording (apologies for the quality).

Map of South Africa showing earthquake risk

Earthquake risk areas

GIBB seems to have initially thought an adequate seismic risk analysis should be done, and once it was pointed out how badly this had been done, now are saying there is actually no need for GIBB to do such a report!

Ignoring the risk of an earthquake damaging a nuclear plant, especially since Fukushima, is just plain stupid, and using shoddy science to reassure the public, as GIBB are doing, is unforgivable.

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