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Concerns raised over nuclear power programme in South Africa

Nuclear-qualified Quality Strategies International CEO David Crawford has raised concerns over  nuclear power programme in South Africa. Mr Crawford warns that South Africa lacks the necessary skills and expertise required to implement government’s plan to build 9.6 GW of new nuclear energy capacity.

He says in addition to the worries of whether South Africa will afford the project, there is the glaring problem of lack of skilled personnel who will undertake the process all the way down from managing the project to artisans.

Among Crawford’s many and varied clients include Eskom’s Koeberg nuclear power plant (NPP), the now effectively terminated pebble-bed modular reactor project and the National Nuclear Regulator. He suggests that all the parties involved in the process need to first identify the necessary skills required to implement the programme.

He adds that major training programs previously undertaken to develop highly skilled artisans in South Africa – associated with the Coega and Mossgas projects have been successful in terms of the training, but an acute shortage of highly skilled jobs for the trainees after they had completed the training meant that the skills they had acquired were lost, either through skills fading or emigration.

Coega trained a total of 8 000 artisans, but the larger Coega Industrial Development Zone, where they could have gotten jobs, was crippled by the country’s  crisis in electricity and just a few of the artisans got hired in  highly skilled jobs. However, on the positive side, the Uk has offered South Africa resources in terms on nuclear training

According to Crawford, the baseline of such a common undertaking should be the new change of key ISO standards. These would be ISO 14001 (environmental management), ISO 9001 (for quality management), ISO 45001 (occupational health and safety) and ISO 30001 (risk management). “The new ISO 9000 covers the aspect of risk very effectively,” he cites. Putting all these together and linking them up with the nuclear policies and regulations would make things much easier and clearer for project managers implementing the programme.

The proposed South African nuclear power expansion project will involve  among other things the construction of up to six new NPPs.The programme has however  been subjected to repeated delays.


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