Nonproliferation
Resource
Fact Sheet

Spent Nuclear Fuel Storage in South Africa

Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel in South Africa

  • June 2, 2020
  • 10:37 am

Highlights

1,144.5 MTU spent nuclear fuel in storage (2017)
1,964.5 MTU spent nuclear fuel projected by 2050
1984 First year of commercial nuclear operation
2 operating nuclear power reactors
1 operating research reactor
1.86 GW(e) installed nuclear capacity (2019)
4.68% nuclear share of domestic energy production (2018)

Regulator: National Nuclear Regulator (NNR)
Power Operator: Eskom 

Nuclear Power stations in South Africa (as of 2019)

Management and Disposal of Spent Nuclear Fuel

Practices

  • The government asserts that additional spent fuel storage capacity is needed in case the reactors’ service lives are extended to 60 years
  • There is a planned interim dry storage facility intended to operate in 2025 at the Koeberg plant, which has wet and dry storage
  • Research reactor fuel is housed first in wet storage for at least two years, then moved to dry storage at the Thabana Pipe Store, which saw a capacity expansion in 2007
  • The National Radioactive Waste Disposal Institute is responsible for waste research and will be taking the lead on disposal and DGR R&D when that project is initiated
  • The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor program was suspended in 2010

Obligations

  • South Africa made a safeguards agreement (INFCIRC/394) in 1991 and an additional protocol entered into force in 2002
  • South Africa acceded to the Joint Convention in 2006
  • The 2005 Radioactive Waste Management Policy and Strategy for the Republic of South Africa is based on eventual disposal, as confirmed in consultation with the South African public and international partners
  • There has been no official decision made whether to reprocess the “used” fuel before ultimate waste disposal
  • As of 2017 the policy is based on the “polluter pays” principle, and the long-term plan is for a National Radioactive Waste Management Fund to be established which operators/owners will pay into
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