South African state-owned power utility, Eskom, has said that it complied with the process of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR) in its application for the Nuclear Installation Site Licence (NISL) in Thyspunt in the Eastern Cape and Duynesfontein in the Western Cape.

The utility said in a company statement that it takes exception to OUTA’s misinformed campaign that alleges the power company is trying to rush through the process.

National Nuclear Regulator

In July, the NNR completed its initial review of the NISL applications that had been submitted to it by Eskom on 10 March 2016, where they said that both applications were compliant with relevant national policies as well as the NNR Act and associated regulations.

Based on these findings, the NNR accepted the applications for further processing.

First phase requires awareness

Eskom explains that the first phase of the NNR’s public participation process, which commenced on 22 July 2016, requires the utility as the applicant, to inform the public and solicit comment on the NISL application.

The utility started to inform persons, bodies, organisations, local authorities and municipalities, as prescribed by the NNR and published notices about its application in isiXhosa, Afrikaans and English in Provincial Gazettes and newspapers in and around the two areas, the utility explained.

“The notices requested interested and affected people to send their comments to the NNR by 29 August 2016. These dates are well within the period of 30 days that is prescribed in the National Nuclear Regulator Act (NNR Act).

“The notices mentioned Eskom’s intention to construct and operate multiple nuclear installations (power reactors) and associated auxiliary nuclear installations of a plant type and technology not yet identified,” the parastatal said.

Second phase requires engagement

The second phase entails deeper engagement in the form of a formal public hearings process pursuant to the provisions of Section 21 (4) (b) of the NNR Act.

The parastatal explained: “During this process, Eskom is required to develop a Public Information Document (PID) in accordance with the NNR’s requirements, which will be used by stakeholders to make in depth representations during the NNR’s public hearings process.”

DoE involvement

The utility said that the Eskom Board provided its support in September 2015 to continue critical nuclear programme development activities.

“Eskom received correspondence from the Department of Energy (DoE) in December 2015, including a Section 34 determination under the Electricity Regulation Act, 2006, reconfirming its role as owner and operator of the 9,600MW new build nuclear fleet,” the utility highlighted.

Currently, Eskom is working with the DoE to define its responsibilities during the procurement process.