'No immediate crisis' on nuclear agreement, says Energy dept

Friday, February 3, 2023

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) says there is “no immediate crisis” with regards to the expiry of a nuclear agreement with the United States of America (USA).

This as the South Africa and USA Nuclear Cooperation Agreement expired in December last year – leading to fears that the Koeberg nuclear power station may run out of fuel.

In a statement, the department emphasised that a new agreement between government and the USA is under negotiation, which was initiated in 2018.

“Negotiations on a new agreement are ongoing and the parties have resolved to expedite the process, while engaging on measures to ensure continuity of cooperation during the negotiations of the New Nuclear Cooperations Agreement.

“We are confident and strongly believe that there is commitment between the Parties to conclude the new Nuclear Cooperation Agreement to ensure mutual economic benefit between the two countries,” the DMRE said.

The department assured that South Africa’s Koeberg power station is not in immediate danger of running out of fuel after the USA withdrew authorisation for fuel supply to the power station, while also acknowledging the urgency for a resolution.

“Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant is currently being supplied with nuclear fuel from Westinghouse Electric Company LLC from the USA to load [Koeberg] Unit 1, and Framatome from France to load [Koeberg] Unit 2. The nuclear fuel for current loading cycle that is in progress has already been purchased and delivered at Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant.

“For the next cycle, Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant is expecting fuel to be delivered by Westinghouse Electric Company LLC early 2024. Therefore, there is no immediate crisis which could exacerbate the load shedding from Eskom due to Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant.

“However, the Department notes that urgent resolution is needed to allow Westinghouse Electric Company LLC to provide fuel supply,” the department said. – SAnews.gov.za