Eskom faces tough questions on its delay in refurbishing Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

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Eskom has denied allegations that it’s anti-nuclear power. This follows concerns raised to the power utility by the portfolio committees on Mineral Resources and Energy as well as Public Enterprises.

This comes after delays in the refurbishment of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station outside Cape Town. The project was supposed to have been completed in 2018.

Eskom says by the end of 2024, the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station would have reached the end of its life span. However, the Steam Generator Replacement Project is running behind by four years.

MPs are concerned about the slow pace of maintenance at Koeberg and the impact on power supply. This as the power utility continues to implement rolling blackouts.

“South Africa was forced to launch IPP purchase for about 100 megawatts due to load shedding whereas Eskom has decided to suspend maintenance of Koeberg to August 2024 and now we are told the licence ends in 2024. Now there is a lot in the public allegations that there is an agenda of moving away from nuclear,” says Khaya Magaxa, Chairperson of the Public Enterprises Committee.

Eskom blames itself as well as a contractor for delays. The power utility says facilities which were required to house the old steam generators once removed, were not ready for use. Its management has denied that it’s against nuclear power.

“Eskom definitely is not anti-nuclear, we are pro-nuclear otherwise we wouldn’t be pursuing this life extension project and we would welcome the opportunity to extensively ventilate all the issues raised and answer any further questions that the committee have” says CEO Andre de Ruyter.

But the National Union of Mine Workers (NUM) disagrees. It says Eskom management is deliberately stalling the project and in the process, unfairly suspending managers who were in charge of it.

“There can be no justifiable reason for suspending staff to investigate these matters which were known and agreed beforehand originally all 3 SGR should have been delivered and installed in 2018, a condition on which the contractor won the bid,” says NUM representative Phumzile Mvomvo.

MPs say they will conduct an oversight visit at Koeberg Power Station to investigate the matter further.