Pretoria – The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy (DMRE) on Friday moved to allay fears of possible disruption of nuclear fuel supplies after the expiry of the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between South Africa and the United States of America (USA).
The Agreement expired on 4 December 2022.
Fears of possible supply issues arose after the USA National Regulatory Commission informed the supplier, Westinghouse, that it had temporarily withdrawn authorisation to supply Eskom Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant with nuclear fuel.
However, the DMRE said: “Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant is currently being supplied with nuclear fuel from Westinghouse Electric Company LLC from the USA to load Unit 1, and Framatome from France to load Unit 2.”
“The nuclear fuel for the 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 in early 2024.
“Therefore, there is no immediate crisis which could exacerbate the load-shedding from Eskom due to the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant.”
DMRE said it has noted media reports regarding the expiry of the Nuclear Cooperation Agreement between SA and the USA and “would like to give an assurance that there is no immediate crisis”.
With many years of strong diplomatic relations between SA and the USA first signed a Nuclear Cooperation Agreement on the Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy in 1995.
It came into effect on 4 December 1997 and lasted for 25 years.
The DMRE said the agreement “expired by effluxion” and had, by 2018, already initiated negotiations for the conclusion of a new standardised Nuclear Cooperation Agreement with the USA.
“Negotiations on a new Agreement are ongoing and the Parties have resolved to expedite the process while engaging in measures to ensure continuity of cooperation during the negotiations of the New Nuclear Cooperation Agreement,” the DMRE said.
However, the DMRE said it notes that an urgent resolution is needed to allow Westinghouse Electric Company LLC to provide fuel supply.