Nuclear trainees head for China

Fifty South African trainees are heading for China for a a 4-month nuclear power plant operations training.

Department of Energy spokesperson Johannes Mokobane told Fin 24 the first group comprises employees from the SA energy industry including the Nuclear Energy Corporation of South Africa (Necsa), Eskom nuclear energy supplier Koeberg, Eskom and the Department of Trade and Industry (dti).

“The programme represents the first phase of an extensive programme which hopes to draw students from South Africa’s tertiary institutions in the near future.

“In the next phase we plan to send 250 participants to China to be trained at various levels,” he said.

The training will take place at the Shanghai Jiao Tong and Tsinghua Universities following a skills development co-operation agreement signed in support of SA’s nuclear new build programme between Necsa and Chinese State Nuclear Power Technology Company.

According to the Department of Energy the training will be in the form of lectures as well as tours to some of China’s nuclear facilities.

Trainees will receive lectures in a variety of topics including nuclear safety regulatory system, nuclear island system equipment, codes and safety oversight, steam power conversion system, material science, conventional island system equipment, thermodynamics and basis of reactor thermal hydraulics, radiation protection, instrumentation and control theories, water chemistry, operation theories, and nuclear safety culture.

In September 2014 Energy Minister Tina Joemat-Pettersson reportedly signed a deal for SA to get up to eight nuclear reactors from Russia.

The power cooperation deal with Russia, through the state nuclear firm Rosatom, would pave the way for the building of nuclear power plants providing up to 9.6GW (8 NPP units) of nuclear power based on Russian technology by 2030.

Reuters reported at the time that China Guangdong Nuclear Power Holding was also among the companies showing interest in securing the nuclear deal.

Mokobane declined to comment when asked whether the training agreement is an indication that China will have a role in supplying SA with nuclear power.

South Africa has already signed agreements on nuclear issues with Russia, China, South Korea and France. Agreements with the United States, Canada and Japan were also under consideration.