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Country South Africa
Location Western Cape
Coordinates 33°40′35.2″S 18°25′55.37″E / 33.676444°S 18.4320472°E / -33.676444; 18.4320472Coordinates: 33°40′35.2″S 18°25′55.37″E / 33.676444°S 18.4320472°E / -33.676444; 18.4320472
Status Operational
Construction began 1976
Commission date 1984
Owner(s) Eskom
Operator(s) Eskom
Nuclear power station
Reactor type Pressurized water reactor
Reactor supplier Framatome
Power generation
Units operational 2 x 900 MW
Annual generation 13668
Koeberg in red with the other potential nuclear sites in blue

Koeberg nuclear power station is a nuclear power station in South Africa. It is currently the only commercial one in the country, and the sole commercial one in the entire African continent. It is located 30 km north of Cape Town, near Melkbosstrand on the west coast of South Africa. Koeberg is owned and operated by the country's only national electricity supplier, Eskom. The two reactors at the station form the cornerstone of the South African nuclear program.

Current anti-nuclear campaigns against Koeberg are being run by Earthlife Africa and Koeberg Alert.


Koeberg contains two uranium pressurised water reactors based on a design by Framatome of France. Koeberg supplies power to the national grid so that over-capacity can be redistributed to the rest of the country on an as-needed basis. Koeberg is rated at 1,800 MW, its average annual production is 13,668 GWh and it has two large turbine generators (2 × 900 MW).[1]

The plant was constructed near Cape Town to be the sole provider of power in the Western Cape after fossil-fuel power stations were deemed too small and too expensive to be viable. Nuclear power was considered because it was more economical than transporting coal to the existing fossil-fuel power stations, and construction of new fossil-fuel power-stations, which would have required 300 m tall chimneys to comply with clean-air legislation.[citation needed] Athlone Power Station in the city was too small to provide Cape Town's needs, and the Paarden Island power station (itself too small) has been demolished.

The reactor at Koeberg is cooled by cold water from the Atlantic Ocean pumped through an isolated circuit at 80 tons a second.[2] Low and intermediate level waste from Koeberg is transported by road in steel and concrete containers to a rural disposal site at Vaalputs, 600 km away in the Kalahari Desert. The grounds of the nuclear plant form a 22 km² nature reserve open to the public containing more than 150 species of birds and half a dozen small mammal species.

The power plant was originally located outside the metropolitan area, whose growth has far exceeded expectations in the intervening 20 years, so that the power plant is now close to suburban housing. The plant administration enforces maximum housing density regulations in case of evacuation, which precludes the construction of high rise buildings.


Construction of the plant began in 1976, and Unit 1 was synchronised to the grid on 4 April 1984. Unit 2 followed on 25 July 1985.

On 8 January 1982, the 70th anniversary of the formation of the African National Congress, Umkhonto we Sizwe, the armed wing of the ANC attacked Koeberg nuclear power plant while it was still under construction.[3] Damage was estimated at R 500 million and the commissioning of the plant was put back by 18 months.[4] In 2010, the bomber was identified as being Rodney Wilkinson.[5]

In August 2002 twelve Greenpeace activists obtained access to the station. Six of them scaled the wall of the plant to hang up an anti-nuclear protest banner. The twelve were arrested and fined.[6]

At the end of 2005, Koeberg started experiencing numerous technical difficulties. On 11 November 2005, a fault on a transmission busbar caused the reactor to go into safe mode, cutting supply to most of the Western Cape for about two hours. On 16 November a fire under a 400kV transmission line caused the line to trip, causing severe voltage dips which resulted in Koeberg once again shutting down. Various parts of the Cape were left without electricity for hours at a time. On the evening of 23 November, a routine inspection of the backup safety system revealed a below-spec concentration of an important chemical, resulting in a controlled shutdown of the reactor. Due to the sufficiency of backup supply, major power cuts were not experienced until Friday 25 November, when the backup capacity began running out. At this point, rotational load shedding was employed, with customers being switched off in stages for most of the day. Koeberg was re-synchronised to the national grid on Saturday 26 November.

On Sunday 25 December 2005, the generator of Unit 1 was damaged. While the generator was being powered up after scheduled refuelling and maintenance, a loose bolt, which was left inside the generator caused severe damage, forcing it to be shut down. Subsequent to the unexpected unavailability of Unit 1, Unit 2 was also brought down for scheduled refuelling, resulting in a severe shortage of supply to the Western Cape. This resulted in widespread load shedding in order to maintain the stability of the network. A replacement rotor for Unit 1 was shipped in from France and the unit was brought back into operation in May 2006.

On 18 and 19 February 2006 large parts of the Western Cape again experienced blackouts due to a controlled shutdown of Koeberg. According to Eskom and the City of Cape Town, power cuts were to continue until 26 February 2006, however power supply problems continued beyond this date.

The estimated economic losses due to the power cuts was over R 500 M as at February 2007, and was estimated to rise to possibly as high as R 2 billion.

On 12 September 2010, 91 members of staff were contaminated with Cobalt-58 dust in an incident that appears confined to the plant.[7]

Opposition to Koeberg[edit]

South Africa's fledgling nuclear industry has seen its fair share of opposition, chiefly from environmentalists concerned about safety issues such as radioactive waste, and anti-war activists concerned about nuclear proliferation and use of atomic weapons. Current campaigns against nuclear energy are being run by Earthlife Africa and Koeberg Alert.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Koeberg Nuclear Power Station". Eskom. Retrieved 14 May 2007. 
  2. ^ "Generating Electricity At A Nuclear Power Station". Eskom. 
  3. ^ "History of MK". African National Congress. Archived from the original on 4 April 2007. Retrieved 14 May 2007. 
  4. ^ Helen Bamford (11 March 2006). "Koeberg: SA's ill-starred nuclear power plant". Cape Argus. Retrieved 14 May 2007. 
  5. ^ Beresford, David (2010). Truth is a Strange Fruit: A Personal Journey Through the Apartheid War. Jacana. ISBN 978-1-77009-902-9. 
  6. ^ Jo-Anne Smetherham (25 August 2002). "Greenpeace in the dock over Koeberg raid". Cape Times. Retrieved 14 May 2007. 
  7. ^ SAPA (20 September 2010). "Koeberg workers contaminated". News24. Retrieved 22 September 2010. 


  1. Nuclear Tourist. Includes a picture.
  2. Koeberg details
  3. Evacuation modelling for Koeberg
  4. Google Map Satellite Image
  5. January 2006 Eskom media release on Koeberg's problems.

Original courtesy of Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koeberg_Nuclear_Power_Station — Please support Wikipedia.
This page uses Creative Commons Licensed content from Wikipedia. A portion of the proceeds from advertising on Digplanet goes to supporting Wikipedia.
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Independent Online

Independent Online
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 22:37:30 -0700

IOL pic sep30 koeberg power station aerial view Bruce Sutherland The Koeberg nuclear power station outside Cape Town. File picture: Bruce Sutherland, City of Cape Town. Westinghouse Electric South Africa had launched an expedited review application ...

Open Democracy

Open Democracy
Fri, 24 Oct 2014 01:03:45 -0700

Koeberg nuclear power station is located 30 km north of Cape Town, owned and operated by the country's only national electricity supplier, Eskom. Jordi Matas/Demotix. All rights reserved. When the famously oil-rich Rockefeller Brothers Fund announced ...

Independent Online

Independent Online
Sun, 19 Oct 2014 23:02:19 -0700

Reuters Koeberg nuclear power station in the Western Cape has successfully been using pressurised water reactor technology for 30 years. Photo: Reuters. The government's R1 trillion nuclear build programme could hit a snag if it fails to provide ...
Eyewitness News
Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:04:48 -0700

The future of nuclear energy in SA. Some people have come out in opposition to nuclear energy solely on ideological premises. Eskom's Koeberg Power Station. Picture: Eskom. Eskom's Koeberg Nuclear Power Station. Picture: Eskom. Email; Print ...

Independent Online

Independent Online
Wed, 24 Sep 2014 23:00:00 -0700

Bruce Sutherland The Koeberg nuclear power station outside Cape Town. File picture: Bruce Sutherland, City of Cape Town. The ratings impact of the nuclear energy development programme with Russia, which South Africa committed to this week, will be felt ...
Mail & Guardian Online
Thu, 09 Oct 2014 22:12:13 -0700

Westinghouse, the aggrieved loser in a R4.1-billion tender to revamp the Koeberg nuclear power station, has lodged a damning high court application to set aside the award to French rival Areva. The application, which is being contested by Eskom and ...


Thu, 02 Oct 2014 10:37:30 -0700

Eskom awarded the contract valued at $381 million (R4.3 billion) to AREVA in August for the supply of six steam generators for the 1,800 MW Koeberg Nuclear Power Station located some 18 miles from Cape Town. However, Westinghouse has maintained ...


Sun, 28 Sep 2014 20:33:45 -0700

New York-listed GE is buying the power and grid business of French group Alstom, which has provided equipment and services to most of SA's coal power plants and to the Koeberg nuclear power station. The president and CEO of GE in SA, Tim Schweikert, ...

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