Kouga could be international exporter of nuclear products

Kouga Municipality area in the Eastern Cape of South Africa could become an international exporter of nuclear products to the world.

This is according to nuclear physicist, Dr Kelvin Kemm of Nuclear Africa, who believes the construction of a nuclear power plant at Thyspunt will bring huge economic benefit to the region.  “Currently Koeberg nuclear power station spends R300-million annually in the local area on activities ranging from equipment maintenance to cleaning the office carpets,” Kemm said.  “During the construction phase the Eastern Cape region would have the opportunity to develop local industry to enter into world export of nuclear assemblies.”

He was addressing 50-odd invited guests at a mini nuclear summit held at St Francis Links last month. Kouga Municipality invited Nuclear Africa, the South African Nuclear Energy Corporation (Necsa) and Eskom to present the summit to discuss the proposed nuclear power plant at Thyspunt and the implications for the area.

The summit was by invitation only and present were Kouga councillors, the media and various stake holders, including representatives of various resident associations in Kouga and anti-nuclear groups. The three main speakers were Dr Kemm, Gert Greeff, Environmental Manager for Eskom and Xolisa Mabhongo, Group Executive Corporate Services for Necsa.

Dr Kemm says he was not referring to complex nuclear core assemblies, he was talking of items as simple as pumps, valves, electronic controls, and welded pipe-work.  “As long as the work is carried out to certified international nuclear standard then there is no reason why local suppliers cannot supply the world.

“If high end motor cars can be exported worldwide from East London why not air and water valves from Humansdorp. The distinct possibility of a nuclear power plant coming to Thyspunt within months is an opportunity to be grasped with enthusiasm.

“Come what may, the region will grow and evolve and the best option is to control the evolution along a professionally controlled nuclear power route.”

Last year Dr Kemm was quoted in Engineering News as saying that “if the Thyspunt site is the first to be selected for the new nuclear build, it will be massively important for the manufacture and export of nuclear power plant components.”

Dr Kemm stressed though at the summit that it is imperative that the components be manufactured to international nuclear quality standards. Companies producing components need to understand the fundamentals of production processes and need to call on experts from universities and other institutions for assistance and guidance. 

Kemm also said not only large companies can become exporters. Small companies just manufacturing nuclear valves for example, can also become exporters if the valves are manufactured to the correct quality standards.

It was reported in the media last year that Nuclear Africa and EON Consulting, of Midrand have produced courses on nuclear quality assurance (QA) practice and a two day course was held in Port Elizabeth. There are plans to hold this introducing course again soon. “The whole Port Elizabeth region is ideally placed to get into nuclear manufacturing in a big way,” Dr Kemm, was reported as saying following a visit there late last year..

“Nuclear power will be a major aspect of the global future, so, the sooner South African companies get into the business, the better for them and the country.”

Dr Kemm referred to the SA government’s decision that there will be large scale localisation and a figure of 50% local content on the first power station is a realistic target. Consequently local companies must view all of the world’s current and future nuclear power stations as their market.

There are huge numbers of components and assemblies that can be supplied from South Africa. Dr Kemm indicated the time is ripe now for companies to get into gear in the nuclear power business.  Kouga companies and those elsewhere in the Eastern Cape and the rest of the country have every opportunity to become world exporters in nuclear, he added.

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