Eskom routine check detects air 'contamination' weakness at Koeberg

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Eskom's Koeberg nuclear power station outside Cape Town.
Eskom's Koeberg nuclear power station outside Cape Town.
Jay Caboz
  • During routine testing, Eskom detected an airborne contamination in the ventilation system of the Koeberg Security Central Alarm Station.
  • The National Nuclear Regulator has confirmed that the airborne contamination is not from a nuclear power plant and there are currently no health and safety concerns at the station.
  • However, there is a weakness at the Koeberg Security Alarm Station, which must be fixed.


During routine testing, Eskom detected an airborne contamination in the ventilation system of the Koeberg Security Central Alarm Station.

According to a statement issued by the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) on Monday, the airborne contamination was not from a nuclear power plant or the result of a nuclear accident. It was part of a testing process at the Koeberg Security Central Alarm Station, whereby a radioactive isotope - I-131 - was used as a tracer. Fin24 understands the Koeberg Security Central Alarm Station is in a bunker and the contamination was contained.

Eskom had on 28 October notified the NNR that it detected the occurrence during routine testing of the ventilation system for the Koeberg Security Central Alarm Station. The isotope represented the kind of contaminant that would be filtered if a nuclear accident were to take place at Koeberg, the NNR explained.

"The NNR conducted its initial inspection of the occurrence and can confirm that the airborne contamination in the Koeberg Security Central Alarm Station did not come from the nuclear power plant. The NNR inspection data indicated that there are currently no health and safety concerns to public or workers as a result of this occurrence," said Peter Bester, NNR Regulatory Programme Manager Nuclear Power Plant.

The NNR will continue its oversight and to ensure Eskom corrects the weakness, to prevent such "occurrences" in future.

The NNR is the regulator for nuclear safety in South Africa. It licences nuclear power plants and authorises the use of nuclear material. Eskom is a licencee which operates a nuclear power plant.

The contributors to load shedding in recent weeks include a trip at unit 1 at Koeberg.

Eskom is in the process of expanding the lifespan of Koeberg by another 20 years and has applied to the NNR to do so.

Eskom has also applied to the NNR to have the Thyspunt site in the Eastern Cape set aside for new nuclear power. The site is along the shoreline between the small towns of Oyster Bay and St Francis Bay.

However, Eskom has no immediate plans to build a nuclear power station on the site, Fin24 previously reported.

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