Koeberg cancels DA oversight at the 11th hour for dubious reasons

Issued by Kevin Mileham MP – DA Shadow Minister of Energy
16 Nov 2023 in News

A DA oversight to Koeberg power station, which was initially agreed to by the power plant managers and was scheduled to take place this morning, was cancelled at the last minute for dubious reasons. With this abrupt cancellation, all the questions that we hoped to ask on the current status of the life extension project and Koeberg’s licence renewal will remain unanswered.

Following reports of repeated delays in returning Unit 1 to full service, the scheduled switch off of Unit 2 before the end of the year and growing fears that Koeberg may have to be shut down completely – the DA submitted a request for an oversight visit on 12 November. The request was approved on Tuesday, 14 November.

On Wednesday afternoon, the DA received an email informing us that the three DA MPs who were scheduled to carry out the oversight had been cleared with the security at the facility to visit. However, we were asked to provide proof that we had obtained clearance to conduct the oversight from the Minister of Public Enterprises, Pravin Gordhan. This was a strange condition because Members of Parliament do not need authorization from the Executive to carry out their oversight responsibilities.

While we were still in the process of responding to this email, a second email was sent that the oversight visit had been cancelled. The reason given for cancelling the oversight was because of the media advisory we had issued inviting journalists to come and hear the outcome of our oversight visit. This was not anything out of the ordinary – the DA always briefs the media for every oversight visit that we conduct. It was clear that the media advisory was just used as a scapegoat to justify a cancellation that had long been decided on beforehand.

Our attempt to explain that there was nothing untoward with the media advisory were flatly ignored and we were told that the oversight is off. There are only two explanations for this bizarre turn of events – either Gordhan demanded the immediate cancellation of the oversight visit or they had no answers to the questions that we wanted to ask about the life extension project. Either way, it was a missed opportunity to square up with South Africans and tell them the truth about what is happening at Koebrrg power station.

As it stands, South Africans will have no way of knowing about the progress made – if any, to synchronize Unit 1 back to the grid, the expected switch-off date and re-synchronisation of Unit 2, including the latest update on the Koeberg licence renewal and extension. The decision by the National Nuclear Regulator to grant Koeberg to begin tests on Unit 1 is nowhere close to confirming when the unit will be brought back to full service. South Africa could face elevated levels of loadshedding if the refurbishment process is not timed well enough to ensure that both units are offline at the same time.

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