Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Eskom's PBMR Report Delayed

20 August 2008
Source: http://www.bday.co.za/

Siseko Njobeni

THE review of the environmental impact report and public meetings for the Pebble Bed Modular Reactor (PBMR) have been delayed, according to the project's environmental impact assessment consultant.

PBMR, a high temperature reactor with a closed-cycle gas turbine power conversion system, is central to the government's stated desire to diversify electricity generation mix. The PBMR is also central to Eskom's plan to double capacity by 2026.

It was not immediately clear yesterday if the delay would affect the deadlines for the project which has already fallen behind schedule. Construction work for the project was scheduled to commence in 2010.

According to initial forecasts, construction should have started last year and the demonstration plan should be ready by 2011.

In a newspaper advertisement, consultants Arcus Gibb and Acer Africa yesterday announced the delay which they attributed to unspecified "unforeseen circumstances" beyond their control.

The consultant said the report would be made available to the public during the comment period from last Thursday to September 30 in Western Cape, KwaZulu-Natal and Gauteng.

Findings of the draft report and specialist studies were also scheduled to be presented in the three provinces later this month and next month.

The studies for the project are an outcome of work by a team of specialists who looked at issues such as air quality, visual impact, flora, fauna, heritage and archaeology, marine biology, radiological safety and health and seismic risk.

According to the consultants , the project would entail setting up permanent infrastructure. These include an integrated reactor and generator building, a generator and associated electrical power plant, a cooling water plant and a transmission power line.

Dalene Murie of the consultants yesterday referred queries about the delay to Eskom, owners of PBMR. Attempts to get comment from Tony Stott, Eskom senior manager for nuclear stakeholder management, were not successful.

The government has thrown its weight behind the PBMR project. Public Enterprises Minister Alec Erwin has in the past said the government wanted to produce between 4000MW and 5000MW of power from pebble bed reactors.

PBMR was established in 1999 with the intention to develop and market small-scale, high-temperature reactors .

Source: http://www.bday.co.za/

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