The Nuclear-1 Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for a large new nuclear plant at the Koeberg site was given the go ahead in 2017, resulting in many appeals against this decision. After three years of silence, the Department sent out a notice to appellants in July 2020, inviting a supplemental submission.
The EIA was based heavily on the Integrated Resource Plan (IRP) 2010, which included projections of strong economic growth and vastly increased electricity demand by 2020, and hence the need for nuclear power stations. Recently the IRP 2019 was released, which took into account the actual electricity demand, and so delayed any possible need for new nuclear power to beyond 2030.
Despite the length of time that has passed with the EIA process in limbo, the Department have told us that interested parties may not make submissions now, unless they also submitted a formal appeal in 2017. The deadline for submissions is 3 September 2020, although this may be extended.
At the same time, the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) is asking for submissions on new nuclear installation regulations, which are vaguely worded but aimed at allowing the Koeberg plant to continue operating two decades beyond its design life without doing an EIA. The comment period for this currently ends on 18 August 2020, although it may be extended in response to calls from civil society.
And finally, the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy have issued a “Discussion Paper on National Decommissioning Policy for Nuclear Facilities” and invited comments by no later than 18 August 2020.
As the expiration of the operating licence for Koeberg in 2024 gets closer, it seems the pro-nuclear lobby is stepping up its efforts on multiple fronts!
Here is the full text of the invitation for supplemental submissions: