Johannesburg, South Africa -- An IAEA team of international experts has carried out a review of South Africa's nuclear infrastructure - the first Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) mission to a country that is already generating nuclear power, and the first in Africa.
The team, assembled by the IAEA at South Africa's request, observed strong Government support for the country's nuclear expansion programme, noted strengths, and made recommendations for further action.
"This mission could not have come at a more important time for our country," said Nelisiwe Magubane, Director General of South Africa's Department of Energy.
"The INIR mission has strengthened the expertise and also the cooperation amongst the nuclear industry in South Africa. It has also given an opportunity to extend public engagement in preparation for the expansion of the nuclear programme."
The mission was conducted from 30 January to 8 February 2013. The IAEA has carried out eight previous INIR missions and one follow-up, all of them in "newcomer" countries that are initiating nuclear power programmes.
South Africa currently has Africa's only commercial nuclear power plant, at Koeberg in the Western Cape. Koeberg Nuclear Power Station began operating in 1984, and its two reactors generate five percent of the country's electricity. The South African government is committed to expanding its nuclear power programme, and asked the IAEA to conduct an INIR mission to review its infrastructure and identify areas for improvement.
"The mission has made a thorough review of all areas of South Africa's nuclear infrastructure," said IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano. "I warmly congratulate South Africa on this significant move to ensure a robust framework for expansion of its nuclear power programme."
INIR missions, which consist of IAEA staff and other international experts, are designed to help IAEA Member States to assess the status of their national infrastructure for the introduction or expansion of nuclear power.
The INIR team identified strengths in several areas supporting both the existing and new build programme, including regulatory self-assessment, environmental impact assessment, grid development and stakeholder involvement. It also made recommendations and suggestions to help South Africa strengthen its nuclear infrastructure as it expands its nuclear power programme.
The IAEA has developed a milestones approach and guidelines to help countries work in a systematic way towards the introduction of nuclear power and ensure that the infrastructure required for the safe, responsible and sustainable use of nuclear technology is developed and implemented.
The mission was funded through a combination of support from the South African government, the Peaceful Uses Initiative, and IAEA Technical Cooperation.
Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review
Integrated Nuclear Infrastructure Review (INIR) Missions provide IAEA Member State representatives with an opportunity to have in-depth discussions with international experts about experiences and best practices in different countries. In developing its recommendations, the INIR team takes into account the comments made by the relevant national organizations. Implementation of any of the team's recommendations is at the discretion of the Member State requesting the mission. The results of the INIR mission are expected to help the Member State to develop an action plan to fill any gaps, which in turn will help the development of the national nuclear infrastructure.
The INIR missions review the 19 infrastructure issues identified in the Agency's publication Milestones in the Development of a National Infrastructure for Nuclear Power.