10 March 2010 – The Pebble Bed Modular Reactor Company (PBMR) is to begin large scale restructuring which could see up to 75% of the 800 strong workforce lose their jobs.
Tom Ferreira, PBMR spokesperson, said that the staff were expected to be absorbed by institutions like Eskom and the Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa), as well as private engineering companies.
The company would retain a small number of employees with specific expertise to continue PBMR’s work.
Eskom is busy with an environmental impact study for its first new 4 000MW nuclear power plant at the existing Koeberg station, at Bantamsklip near Pearly Beach on the Overberg coast, or at Thyspunt near St Francis bay in the Eastern Cape. A draft environmental impact report has recently been completed. However, it would appear that the focus for South Africa’s nuclear programme is on conventional nuclear technology, rather than the PBMR’s experimental helium-cooled high-temperature pebble bed technology.