Outa has issued a statement noting its concern about the suspension of Peter Becker from the board of the National Nuclear Regulator (NNR). Becker, from Koeberg Alert Alliance (KAA), represents civil society on the NNR board.
The NNR is responsible for authorising the extension of the life of the Koeberg nuclear power station. Koeberg is legally due to shut down in 2024, but Eskom has applied to the NNR for authorisation to extend its life by 20 years by undertaking refurbishment and upgrades.
According to Outa, neither Eskom nor the NNR has been transparent about the life extension, which is estimated to cost at least R20bn.
Becker 'blocked from a board meeting'
KAA reported that Becker was blocked from a board meeting on Monday, 17 January, and was initially refused any explanation. On Tuesday, he received a formal letter of suspension from minister of mineral resources and energy Gwede Mantashe, citing allegations of misconduct from October 2021, which the minister claimed that Becker had failed to respond to.
According to Becker’s lawyers, he had responded.
On Tuesday, the NNR board formally granted Eskom permission to go ahead with the replacement of three steam generators at Koeberg.
Outa alleges that Becker’s suspension was possibly "timed to block him from Monday's board meeting and from further such meetings about the Koeberg extension".
"The decision about replacing the steam generators is a crucial part of the extension," Outa said.
The organisation has since written to Mantashe
, urging him to reinstate Becker without further delay.