Eskom releases Koeberg Decommissioning Strategy

Koeberg is the only nuclear power plant in Africa, and is operated by Eskom under a licence issued by the National Nuclear Regulator. Section 17.2 of this licence specifies that “The licensee must submit for approval a decommissioning plan, as early as possible in the life cycle of the activity or facility. The plan should be revisited and updated as necessary.”

Using the Promotion of Access to Information Act in August 2020 we submitted a request to Eskom for a copy of this plan. In October 2020 they responded with a letter and the document below. The letter stated that there were redactions for three reasons: to remove personal and financial information, and where “Eskom is bound by a duty of confidence owed to Third Parties. The first redaction is a list of reference documents. The second is two and half blank pages of ‘Roles and Responsibilities’.

The document provided was not a plan, but a strategy. This is clear from its title Decommissioning Strategy for Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. Helpfully, it also defines in section 2.3.7 a ‘Decommissioning Plan’, and in 2.3.18 an ‘Initial Decommissioning Plan’. We will need to go back to Eskom and ask for a copy of the actual plan, if such a document exists.

The strategy document contains two bits of good news, and two of bad news. The good news is that Eskom ‘prefers’ immediate decontamination and dismantling, as opposed to deferring the problem to the future. Also, the target endpoint is ‘greenfield’, in other words to remove all traces of the nuclear plant from the site.

The bad news is section 3.7 which describes factors which may change the above. One is if the extension of the life of the current plant and the other is if a new nuclear plant is built on the site. This means Eskom will avoid an unknown but large expense if either of these happen.

Here is the full redacted strategy document

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