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ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS & TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE Documents handed out:
5 August 1998
NATIONAL PARKS AMENDMENT BILL: BRIEFING & COUNCIL FOR NUCLEAR SAFETY: SAFETY ASPECTS AT KOEBERG POWER STATION
Slides presented by the Council for Nuclear Safety
Spent Fuel Storage at Koeberg
Report of the Council for Nuclear Safety
National Parks Amendment Bill [B83-98] (access from http://www.polity.org.za/govdocs/bills/1998)
An informal briefing was held on the National Parks Amendment Bill. Members of the committee were dissatisfied that only one province, Western Cape, was consulted regarding the drafting of the amendments to the Bill. The Council for Nuclear Safety gave a presentation on their role and the safety aspects of Koeberg Power Station. Other issues surrounding the Council were also discussed.
The first item was a briefing on the amendments made to the National Parks Bill. This was not on the agenda initially. The memorandum of the amendments was read by the Director of the South African National Parks Board, Mr D. Paris. The Chairperson stated that this was an informal stage to the whole discussion of the amendments and then proceeded to allow questions from the members.
Q: Why was only the province of Western Cape consulted in the making of these amendments?
A: This province was consulted regarding the issue of the Knysna Wetlands.
Several members felt this was incorrect because there were several provinces which were going to be affected by the Bill and they should have also been consulted. Mr Paris and his associate stated that the Bill would affect those parks that have been classified as National Parks and not those in the past, which were classified by the TBVC states. The problems facing these parks are being looked into by a separate Commission. The Chairperson re-iterated that those provinces should have been consulted. Hence she noted that the Parks Board should note this as an omission on their part and in future should consult with other provinces.
It was requested by one member that the Board should make an audit so that they know what the future holds for them and the members of parliament would have a fuller picture of the situation. In this way amendments could be made once, instead of having to go through several amendment bills.
The next item on the agenda was a presentation from the Council for Nuclear Safety. Mr P. Metcalf introduced concepts , terminology as well as dealing with the specific issue of the Koeberg Power Station.
Regarding the Koeberg Power Station, Mr Metcalf said that Eskom had requested a license for modification purposes. He noted that the intended modification was regarding the water tanks where spent fuel was being stored in. The current facility apparently has enough space to hold cores until the middle of the year 2000. By this time there will be a need for more space or the station will have to shut down. The license change will be requested at the end of this year. It will be reviewed in the 1st quarter of next year. The extension is scheduled to be completed by May-August 1999.
The Chairperson and most of the members agreed that some of the questions regarding the station could only be answered by Eskom and they should be called in for this purpose.
Mr Metcalf also presented some other issues. It was noted that some changes should be taken into consideration with regards to the Council for Nuclear Safety. The main concern raised by members was who the Council for Nuclear Safety reported to. It became clear that reporting to the Minister of Mineral and Energy Affairs presently was inappropriate. The Council for Nuclear Safety should be an independent council and cannot be influenced by the mining sector. There is also a need for interested and affected parties to be able to interact with the Council. This comes with the need to be open and transparent. It also contributes to their accountability.
Alarming issues came to light when the figures of radiation levels of miners were presented. The levels of exposure some miners were undergoing were above the highest dosages allowable. South Africa has the highest world figures of such exposure for mainly gold miners . This is due to the fact that there is considerable amounts of uranium mined along with gold. Miners are not aware of the risks they are facing and a lot of them die months after retiring due to cancer. These issues have to be looked at by the Mineral and Energy committee and steps needed to be taken.
The Council for Nuclear Safety tried to show the difficulties that arise when safety measures are imposed on mines by both the mining companies as well as the miners. Economic consideration seemed to be the highest priority to the companies where the welfare of human beings was compromised. The Council also had to take into consideration that jobs might be lost if they ask factories to close on safety grounds. Nevertheless, they do feel that appropriate safety measures can be put in place without loosing out economically in the long run.
With regards to offshore transport of dangerous materials, the Council noted that these ships (French, Japanese and British mainly) all adopt the international safety regulation. They have stated that they would not need to dock on South African shores. They would have to comply to South African safety regulations if that were the case.
The Chairperson ended the meeting by informing the members that the concerns raised will be discussed further.
ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS & TOURISM PORTFOLIO COMMITTEE
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