Nuke-free SA

Keep South Africa safe from nuclear disaster

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Say No to Nukes

Just clean energy

The South African Government continues to assert that nuclear energy is safe, clean and a solution to climate change. But, it is not.

There is no way to deal with high-level nuclear waste that nuclear power plants produce. It can only be stored and will continue to exist for thousands of years. Future generations will be left to deal with the costs of the high level waste and the environmental risks that emanate from it.

Koeberg produces about 30 tons of high-level waste per year, and all of it is currently stored at Koeberg – over 1000 tons of waste. If not stored properly, the waste can melt, and also ‘go critical’, which would result in a nuclear explosion. Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant is located just 40km from Cape Town.

Let’s keep South Africa safe from nuclear disaster.

Koeberg is the only commercial nuclear plant in operation in South Africa and in Africa. But, if we act now and let government know that we do not want nuclear energy in our energy future, we can change that.

Safcei is running a Just Clean Energy campaign. We need your help. Let government know that you say no to nuclear energy and yes to just clean energy!

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Koeberg Fallout zone

The evacuation zones around Koeberg

Keep South Africa safe from nuclear disaster. We need your help to shut down Koeberg. Consult the map to find out if you are in the fallout zone.

Am I in the Fallout Zone?

Take a look at the map below. We show which areas would need to be evacuated, using potential evacuation zones based on previous nuclear disasters in other countries. Fukishima’s evacuation zone was 20km and Chernobyl’s evacuation zone was 30km. The red circle indicates a 20km radius and the orange circle indicates a 30km radius. These are areas which would potentially be in the fallout zone and would need to be evacuated if there would be a nuclear accident.

To see the danger zones around Koeberg nuclear power station just outside Cape Town. The red and orange circles indicate areas which would be affected if there would be a nuclear accident - what is known as the fallout zone.

Take action

How to make a difference and stop nuclear in South Africa

Make a submission to oppose the Koeberg plant life extension

Government has recently released draft regulations that will enable the extension of the plant life of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant. The plant was meant to close in 2024. But once these regulations are adopted, Eskom will be able to apply for a license for Koeberg to continue operate for an extra 20 years.
Make a submission to oppose the draft regulations for the long term operation of nuclear installations.
Help our cause by using the form below to send a submission to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy.

Add your voice on Twitter or Facebook

Voice your concerns on your social media using Safcei’s Just Clean Energy Campaign Hashtags
#JustCleanEnergy #NukeFreeSA #NukeFreeFuture

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Write an opinion piece or letter

Engage with what is being reported on nuclear by writing a letter to your local newspaper (or even the national newspapers), or share your concerns on any other medium and send through to so that we can also share it.

Get a conversation going

Start a conversation with your friends, family and colleagues and spread the word as far and wide as possible.

Oppose the nuclear regulations

The Department of Mineral Resources and Energy has invited interested persons and organisations to make submissions on the proposed Regulations on the long term operation of nuclear installations. These regulations will enable Eskom to apply for a license to extend Koeberg’s Plant Life. An ageing Koeberg continuing to operate creates a danger of radiation exposure for at least 100,000 people if a nuclear incident were to occur.
If you object to the continued existence of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant, please use the form below to make a submission to the Department of Mineral Resources and Energy. Include the reasons you object to the continued operations of the plant. If you are not sure what to write, you can read through the overview of the draft regulations, the draft regulations and resources section for ideas. You may copy paste into the comment text box.

Go to Nuclear Regulator Act

The closing date is 19 August 2020.

Plans to extend the operations of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station

The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy has announced plans to extend the plant life of Koeberg beyond 2024, which is when Koeberg was expected to reach the end of its life. The 2019 Integrated Resource Plan outlines that Koeberg supplies 1800 MW of electricity and that Eskom has commenced preparations to extend its life by 20 years to 2044. These are subject to the necessary regulatory approvals. Once the regulatory approvals are received, the IRP envisions that the plant life extension process will increase the capacity to its original design capacity of 1926MW. The draft regulations will enable Eskom to apply for these regulatory approvals.

Overview of draft regulations on the long-term operation of nuclear installations

The draft regulations set the requirements for nuclear installation licence holders (such as the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station) to apply to operate beyond the time duration contained in the original licence.
The regulations set out how to apply and say that any licensee wanting to operate beyond the originally established time-frame must apply to the National Nuclear Regulator to do so and that their application is made in terms of section 21(1) of the National Nuclear Regulator Act of 1999 (NNR Act). Section 21(1) requires any person wishing to (among other things) site, construct and operate a nuclear installation to apply in the prescribed format to the chief executive officer for a nuclear installation licence. Section 21(4)(a) of the NNR Act affords any person who may be directly affected by the granting of a nuclear installation licence an opportunity to make representations to the NNR, relating to health, safety and environmental issues connected with the application, within 30 days of the date of publication in the Gazette. Section 21(4)(b) empowers the NNR board, it is of the opinion that further public debate is necessary, to arrange for such hearings on health, safety and environmental issues as it determines.
The application must say how long a time period is being applied for and must be supported by a safety case that demonstrates it is safe to operate beyond the initial specified timelines.
The factors that the National Nuclear Regulator must take into consideration when evaluating the application are:

  • Safety related programmes
  • Effectiveness of the ageing management programme
  • Revalidated ageing analyses to ensure continued acceptability of structures, systems or components
  • Results of safety reviews must be provided to justify that it will be safe to operate beyond the initial time-frame.

The draft regulations also set out the requirements that must be met for a licence for long-term operation and give details of what the safety case that has to be submitted must contain.
The National Nuclear Regulator does not have to grant a licence for the same time period that is applied for. It is up to the Regulator to decide the timeframe for the licence when they evaluate the application. The application may initiate subsequent licensing stages, which might include extended shutdown or decommissioning if the licensee fails to demonstrate the safe Long Term Operation of the nuclear installation.

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About Us

Learn more about the organizations behind this No Nuke site.

Many organisations and individuals spoke out against the 9500MW nuclear deal. At the end of 2016 the need for a unified campaign became clear. Although the high court set aside the intergovernmental agreements, government has not abandoned its plans for nuclear. Therefore, we have come together again to campaign for a nuclear free future.

Government’s future plans for Koeberg

The Minister of Mineral Resources and Energy has announced that government intends to extend the plant life of the Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. Koeberg’s plant life was originally intended to end by 2024. Government now wants to extend its life by twenty years to end in 2044. Government has also indicated an intention to embark on a small-scale nuclear build programme to the extent of 2,500MW by 2030, at a pace, scale and cost affordable to the country.

Extending the lifespan of the ageing Koeberg plant

Koeberg is operated by Eskom and has two units. Koeberg 1 started operating commercially in 1984 and Koeberg 2 in 1985. Eskom intends to extend the operation of both units by 20 years so that the plant will operate until 2044. But, the plant is ageing and its technology is from the 1970s. That heightens the safety risks associated with Koeberg. If you think about the appliances in your home, do you have any that are from the 1970s? If you even have any, how well do they operate?
When Koeberg was originally built, it was within the guidelines for the number of people living in the immediate vicinity. However, as the City of Cape Town has grown over time, the number of people who live close to Koeberg has increased. In 2011, approximately 126,000 people lived within 20km of Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. Koeberg is within 40km of Cape Town - South Africa’s second most populous city with an estimated population of over 4.6 million people source.

2500MW new nuclear energy

While the Minister of Energy has announced an intention to embark on a small-scale nuclear build programme to the extent of 2,500MW by 2030, government’s own integrated resource plan does not envision new nuclear power coming onstream before 2030. Nuclear is not a solution to the current electricity supply shortages and loadshedding as it takes years to bring plants on stream.
Around the world, nuclear builds are well known for cost overruns. South Africa can ill-afford that. Even if government uses a Build Own Operate and Transfer (BOOT) model to finance small modular reactors, the costs must at some point be recouped and it is the public that will ultimately end up paying, for example through higher tariffs for this expensive electricity.


The costs of government’s nuclear plans

Secrecy surrounds the costs of nuclear projects

Due to the secrecy that government maintains around the costs of large electricity infrastructure projects, it is neither clear what it will cost to extend the plant life of Koeberg nor what it will cost to build 2500MW new nuclear. Government has not disclosed the costs related to nuclear to the public whose taxpayer contributions and payment of electricity tariffs funds Eskom.

Right to access to information denied

The Constitution provides for the right of access to information by the public and the media. Section 32 of the bill of rights says that “everyone has the right of access to ­any information held by the state and any information that is held by another person and that is required for the exercise or protection of any rights”.

All residents in South Africa contribute to the public purse, whether through paying income tax and/or through contributing to Value-Added Tax when buying goods and services. Public money is meant to be used for public good to fund service delivery and ensure that the rights enshrined in the Constitution are realised. The public interest is clear when it comes to knowing the costs of electricity generation projects and yet Eskom habitually turns down information requests, citing commercial reasons.

Costs of final disposal of high-level radioactive nuclear waste unknown Koeberg Nuclear Power Station produces about 30 tons of high-level radioactive waste per year, and all of it is currently stored at Koeberg – over 1000 tons of waste. Koeberg’s high-level nuclear waste such as used fuel is stored on site at Koeberg in used fuel pools and in casks. This waste can pose serious risks to humans and the environment. If not stored properly, high-level waste can melt, and ‘go critical’, which would result in a nuclear explosion. Koeberg’s storage capacity was designed for its current plant life and is therefore nearing full storage capacity.

Since 1986, the final disposal solution for the high-level of nuclear waste from Koeberg has been anticipated ‘within 5 years’. However, the issue of final waste disposal repeatedly gets delayed. This is because if it were to be costed, it will become apparent that nuclear energy is more costly than nuclear industry experts assert it is. If research on final disposal is done, the costs will become apparent and will have to be included in the country’s Integrated Resource Plan costings.

Eskom bailouts take money away from education and health spending Eskom has received a number of bailouts that run into the billions. These bailouts are largely to meet loan repayments such as for the loans to build the Medupi and Kusile Coal Powered Plants. The bailouts continually result in money that could have been spent on education, health, clean energy or other areas of spending being diverted.

Unresolved issues of state capture at Eskom

A 2012 Special Investigating Unit (SIU) report revealed that Eskom spent a massive R14.5tn for emergency coal during the course of load shedding in 2008. The SIU report revealed that South Africa’s 2008 loadshedding was a self-created emergency, which appeared to be partly engineered by senior employees at Eskom in order to sign emergency contracts to benefit coal suppliers. source: City Press. March 2019 - Eskom’s massive coal splurge. Since then South Africans have been rocked by revelations of state capture at Eskom. Eskom has not yet proven that it can be trusted not to continue squandering public money.

The risks associated with nuclear energy

Safety at Koeberg during a time of a pandemic

The Covid-19 pandemic creates a risk for the operations of nuclear plants all over the world. The safety case of Koeberg may be less viable under Covid-19. When key people are off sick, the issue at a nuclear plant is that they have very specific expertise that cannot be replaced in a short amount of time. With travel restrictions due to the pandemic, overseas experts are also limited from being able to come to another country to support.

We may think we are in a bad situation now, with the Corona virus outbreak, the economy and electricity shortages, but if a nuclear incident occurred at Koeberg which required evacuation, it would be even worse. It is simply not worth the risk.

Evacuation of Koeberg would affect over a hundred thousand people An evacuation of 20 km would conservatively affect about 126 000 people (according to the 2011 census). South Africa has set its Urgent Protective Action Zone at a 16km radius around Koeberg. An evacuation of people from the 16 km zone would probably affect 60 to 100 000 people depending on the current populations of Atlantis, Parklands, Du Noon and Melkbos.

Evacuation is not short-term, it can permanently displace people If there were a nuclear disaster at Koeberg, the evacuation required would not be a short-term evacuation. The examples of Fukushima and Chernobyl indicate that evacuation can be permanent for entire communities.

In the Fukushima disaster, a 20 km evacuation zone was permanently declared and in 2018 there were still 28 000 people looking for homes who had been evacuated from that zone.

In Chernobyl, in 1986 one day after the explosion, the Soviet authorities proceeded to the evacuation of 116,000 residents living within 30 km around the damaged plant. The area was evacuated in emergency within 30 hours and declared prohibited. The exclusion zone has since remained largely uninhabited, though defying the proscriptions, about 500 people, mostly elderly people, returned to live there, preferring not to leave the villages and the environment. If one adds to these 116,000 inhabitants, people outside the zone who were also evacuated later, it is a total of some 350,000 people who had to suffer the trauma of uprooting imposed overnight and relocation source.

Disadvantaged communities would be worst affected

Vulnerable and disadvantaged communities in the Koeberg fall out zone would be severely affected. Residents of Atlantis and Du Noon would be very severely affected if they suddenly had to permanently evacuate.

The evacuation plan involves the use of Golden Arrow and MyCiti buses for those who do not have private motor vehicles. It does not however consider that bus drivers may not be willing to drive into a radioactive area to evacuate people. In the event of a severe nuclear disaster, it could mean the bus drivers sacrificing their lives to evacuate people who would be exposed to radiation. If bus drivers are unwilling to do so, people who rely on public transport could be stranded in the evacuation zone. Iodine is stored by the municipality, and is therefore not readily available to the public in the immediate vicinity of the plant.

Nuclear safety in South Africa

Protective measures

Broadly, protective measures against nuclear risks include:

  • Evacuation
  • Shelter in place
  • Iodine

Emergency planning zones

South Africa makes provision for three emergency planning zones that fall within the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) guidelines. The IAEA guidelines do not specify a particular radius, but a range of distances. For the UPZ (urgent protective action) it should be between 5 and 30km. South Africa has set its Urgent Protective Action Zone at a 16km radius around Koeberg. It is up to the boundary of this zone that South Africa would evacuate residents if there is a nuclear disaster. The area around the KNPS is divided into three nuclear safety zones:

Nuclear safety zone Distance from reactor Risk level Evacuation arrangements
Inner emergency planning zone
or Precautionary Action Zone (PAZ)
Within 5km High Risk - people in this area would be at the highest risk of radiation exposure. Evacuation must be possible within 4 hours
Intermediate emergency planning zone
or Urgent Protective Action Zone (UPAZ)
5 to 16 km Medium Risk - people could potentially be harmed by direct radiation exposure. Evacuation must be possible within 16 hours
Outer emergency planning zone
or Longer Term Protective Action Zone (LPAZ)
Within 80 km “Safe” - Radioactive materials may contaminate water supplies, crops and livestock Will not be evacuated

Neighbourhoods close to Koeberg Nuclear Power Plant

These neighbourhoods fall within the Nuclear safety zones that will be evacuated if a nuclear disaster occurred at Koeberg:

  • Duynefontein
  • Melkbos
  • Parklands
  • Atlantis
  • Bloubergstrand
  • Du Noon

Contact us

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Organizations partners around this cause:

Safcei Cape Town office

The Green Building
Bell Crescent
Westlake Office Park
South Africa
Postal Address:
PO Box 106
Kalk Bay 7990
South Africa

Telephone: +27(0)21 701 8145
Fax: +27 (0)86 696 9666

Earthlife Africa Johannesburg

Tel: +27 11 339 3662
Fax: +27 11 339 3270

87 De Korte Street
5th Floor
Hereengracht Building

Postal Address:
P O Box 32131