The Agreement for Cooperation in Peaceful Uses of Nuclear Energy between South Africa and the United States ended on 4 December 2022. If this isn’t the most terrifying sentence you’ve read all morning, we are concerned about your Twitter feed. Fortunately, the implications aren’t as scary as they sound. At least, for us. Eskom on the other hand…
One less nuclear option – for now
The pact between the US and South Africa enabled Eskom to import nuclear fuel components to the lone atomic plant in the country – the Koeberg power station. With it now ended, Westinghouse Electric can no longer export these components to Eskom according to the US Nuclear Regulatory Commission.
So… now what? Well, Eskom is wondering the same thing.
“Eskom is exploring the implications of the withdrawal of the US NRC approval for Westinghouse, and what is needed to enable them to continue supplying fuel,” the power provider said in response to questions surrounding the now-ended pact. It doesn’t have to decide right now, since Eskom isn’t facing any immediate nuclear shortages.
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According to Eskom, both Westinghouse Electric and French company Framatome have been retained as nuclear fuel suppliers, with Westinghouse having already delivered the necessary materials needed for when Eskom’s latest stint finishes up on Koeberg’s unit 1. Framatome has been credited with providing the materials needed for Koeberg’s unit 2.
“The contracts with Westinghouse and Framatome cover the fuel needed beyond these two outages,” said Eskom. Whew.
It’s possible that Eskom will plead the country’s case to renew the pact between itself and the US. And what better time to address the issue than with US treasury secretary, Janet Yellen, who’s visiting South Africa over the course of this week? The pact was initially meant to be renewed all the way back in August by US President Joe Biden, though for some inexplicable reason, that never happened.