Koeberg: Eskom in talks with French nuclear company over possible defect risk

It is as yet unclear whether the Koeberg nuclear plant, outside Cape Town, is affected by a French company's warning that some plants using its technology might have defects.

According to EDF, its reactor building company Framatome (previously known as Areva) established that there was “a deviation from technical standards” in the weldings on some steam generators manufactured since 2008.

While Koeberg, the only nuclear power station in Africa, was built by Framatome, was constructed in the 1970s and 1980s.   

An Eskom spokesperson told Fin24 that the utility is in discussions with EDF to determine if there is any risk.

"We have not received any notification from EDF about the impact on currently-installed steam generators at Koeberg and those that are being manufactured for the life extension of Koeberg. Due to the potential impact on the French power plants, we are in discussions with EDF to determine if there is any risk to Eskom."

In April this year Eskom announced that it was overhauling Koeberg with the aim of extending its lifespan by at least 20 years.

Both Koeberg units are currently in-service with Unit 1 due for its routine maintenance and refuelling outage later this month, the spokesperson said.

According to the French newspaper Le Figaro, EDF did not indicate how many power stations might be impacted. However, the newspaper quotes the French Nuclear Safety Authority (ASN) as saying about 20 generators could be impacted.

Steam is used for the turbine producing electricity within a nuclear power plant. No details regarding which power plants might be affected have been provided yet. 

Reuters has, however, reported that South Africa is one of the countries to which EDF technology was exported.

EDF said it would provide more details in future, Le Figaro added. Currently, experts are still analysing technical data.

In April this year, Public Enterprises Minister Pravin Gordhan said in a Parliamentary reply that Koeberg released radioactive waste into the environment in three separate incidents in 2014 and 2015, but the quantities were "negligible" and fell under the threshold that would have made it necessary to notify the public.